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Virus, The Flu, Covid 19, and What To Do About It

August 1, 2020

This year will probably be know as the year covid 19 appeared as a world pandemic. I first heard about it sometime in February. It was something in China and at first I was not concerned. China and other parts of the world often have outbreaks of viral or other diseases that are contained snd never affect North America. Then in late February a few cases were reported in metro Atlanta and it began to get my attention. In late February I had congestion, headache, night sweats, chills, dry cough, chest pain, sore throat, tiredness and fatigue. That happens about every winter at least once and I thought it was another annual virus. By the first week in March I felt better. I had a routine doctor’s appointment unrelated to any virus in the first week of March. The doctor did not shake hands with me. He was not wearing a mask. He was concerned about the virus being in Atlanta. In the following weeks reports of the virus began filling the news, and then came the devastation in New Uork and other northern cities. There were some outbreaks in Georgia and other states and I began to take notice.

I starting reading about virus research, seasonal flus and pandemics in the past. I had grown up hearing family stories of the Spanish flu. Virus born illness is something we live with. All the illnesses are different. The one thing they have in common us their unpredictability. They constantly mutate and that is what makes them unpredictable. They can mutate to become less deadly, or mutate to become more deadly. They can become easier to transmit or more difficult to transmit. Messages from health experts about covid 19 have changed since January as more has been learned, and as the virus had undergone mutation which they believe has made it less lethal but easier to transmit.

Early expectations were that the virus would be contained in China. Then after it arrived here the prediction was that it would subside with hot weather. Neither of those predictions came true. The expects told us that the virus was transmitted by surface touch. Then it was by droplets that would only stay in the air for twenty minutes or less and travel less than six feet from the person who had it. Now they are saying that the virus is suspended in aerosol form in the air and can spread or be blown around a room and stay in the air for hours. That explains why it is still being transmitted in the hot weather in the South. People gather in cool air conditioned rooms to escape the heat. The problem is often the rooms are poorly ventilated and the virus lives in the air for long periods of time. Masks offer some protection but are not air tight and do not filter out all the virus particles. When I wear a mask the air I breath in comes from around the edges of the mask, not filtered through the mask. Any particles in the air I would breath right in. The expects say that a mask would catch a large part if the virus a person with the virus expelled when he coughed or spoke. But a large part is not the same as catching all if it. There us still some danger of virus escaping into the air in the room.

Gathering in groups in a poorly ventilated to escape summer heat in the south may not be much better than gathering in a poorly ventilated room in the winter in the North to escape the cold.

The best outcome I can see would be for the virus to quickly mutate into something no more harmful than a head cold or mild stomach virus that we quickly get over with mild symptoms. But the most likely outcome is for it to be around for years as a recurring seasonal or annual illness. I would not bet on it becoming harmless and going away any time soon.

A lesson to be learned from this is to keep our rooms and buildings well ventilated. Recycled air should be well filtered. In 1918 doctors learned that Spanish flu patients with access to fresh air and sunshine and even treated outside in tents had better survival rates. Those with high levels of vitamin D also did better. Deficiencies in vitamin D and other health problems was not a good prognosis. One advantage people may have in the summer us that they spend more time outside and get more vitamin D, and spend less time in poorly ventilated rooms to stay warm. That may be why seasonal flu subsidies in the summer.

From → Observation

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