Monday, July 6, 2020

Wear a Damn Mask and Socially Distance


Currently, the US has 2.9 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 130,000 deaths. The total number of confirmed and unconfirmed cases (which includes asymptomatic people who haven’t been tested) is estimated to be 29 million. Overall, the US is still in the first wave of infections and this wave is now cresting, with 51,000 new confirmed cases on July 1, 2020.



However, even though we have already suffered 130,000 deaths, many people (particularly young people) are not taking this pandemic seriously enough. They are basically acting as if the pandemic were over. Some are congregating at crowded bars, restaurants, beach parties, pool parties, sand-bar parties, etc. where virtually no one is wearing a mask.

These people are essentially saying, “Screw it. I’m going to do whatever I want. I’m not going to wear a mask or socially distance. If I get the coronavirus, so be it. If I give it to other people, so be it. If I or others end up getting severely sick, going to the hospital, and incurring a $30,000 hospital bill, so be it. If I or others end up dying from coronavirus, so be it. If I want to go to a very crowded bar or pool party, then I’m going to do it and SCREW everyone else.”

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WAKE THE HELL UP AND USE YOUR DAMN BRAIN

This is a very simple issue in terms of practical rationality.

Do you really want to risk getting the coronavirus and possibly spreading it to others such as your friends, parents, siblings, grandparents, and other relatives?

Do you really want to risk getting severely sick, going to the hospital, and ending up with a $30,000 hospital bill or have this happen to your friends, family members, or relatives?

Do you really want to risk your own death or that of your friends, family members, or relatives?

Young people, you are NOT invincible. If you act recklessly and if you take on way too much risk (e.g. you go to a very crowded pool party, forego wearing a mask, and hang around 100+ strangers for hours), then things may end badly or even catastrophically (e.g. you end up getting severely sick or dying from the coronavirus). If you doubt this can happen, just consider the 2007-2008 US financial crisis. Leading up to 2007, Wall Street acted very recklessly and took on way too much risk in the form of derivatives (e.g. mortgage-backed securities, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, etc.), and it ultimately led to the financial crisis and Great Recession, which affected virtually everyone and everything, long-term, in the US.

Furthermore, every American must realize that this pandemic will not end until a safe, effective vaccine is released and widely administered, which may happen in Fall 2020, Winter 2020-21, or Spring 2021. Until then, the pandemic is not over. Until then, the coronavirus death count will keep increasing, from 130,000 deaths to 140,000, 150,000, and so on.

Thus, on a daily basis, every American needs to ask himself or herself the following questions:

  • “How high do I want the coronavirus death count to be?”
  • “Do I want it to hit 200,000 or 250,000 or 300,000 or 400,000 or even higher?”
  • “Do I really want the death count to start approaching the number of US military deaths in World War II (405,000), when we were engaged in a highly destructive, apocalyptic world war against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan?”
  • “Should I really refuse to wear a mask and socially distance if this means directly or indirectly contributing to the X number of deaths in this pandemic? Am I really willing to be that selfish, irrational, and short-sighted?”
People, if you want to minimize the number of additional coronavirus deaths, if you want to limit the deaths to fewer than 200,000, then you must (among other things) WEAR A DAMN MASK AND SOCIALLY DISTANCE.

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1. WEAR A DAMN MASK

With few exceptions, EVERYONE should wear a cloth/disposable/medical/N95 mask when they leave their home. If you’re going outside for a walk or hike, wear a mask. If you’re going to hang out at the local park, wear a mask. If you’re going to the grocery store, drug store, liquor store, bank, ATM, Target, etc., wear a mask. If you’re driving to the gas station to get gas, wear a mask at the gas station. If you’re riding public transportation, wear a mask. If you’re taking an Uber or Lyft, wear a mask. If you’re going to eat at a restaurant (whether outdoors or indoors), wear a mask when you’re not eating or drinking anything.

But there are some possible exceptions to this rule.

  • If you have serious issues breathing when wearing a mask, then forego the mask but stay at least six feet away from others. But if you find wearing a mask merely uncomfortable, then that is not a serious breathing issue and you should wear a mask. You can wear a cloth, disposable, or medical mask instead of an N95, which is more restrictive in terms of breathing.
  • If you are intensely running or biking outside such that you are breathing hard, then forego the mask but stay at least six feet away from others. If you are running or biking at a moderate or slow pace and if you can handle wearing a mask, then wear one.
Now, some of you may hate wearing a mask and refuse to wear one when in public (e.g. when entering a store). In that case, you should ask yourself, “Do I really want the coronavirus death count to hit 200,000 or 250,000 or 300,000 or 400,000 or even higher?” Because you are directly or indirectly contributing to that death count when you refuse to wear a mask in public.

Here is further perspective from an Arizona ER doctor:

“I get angry when I see people refuse to wear a mask or physically distance from others or stay home when they could because it is inconvenient—or as a political statement. If you do not wear a mask and physically distance, you are putting yourself and others in harm’s way. You are putting us in harm’s way. Then you will expect us to risk our lives to save you. And it’s not just we whom you ask to risk our lives, but our families as well. What you are saying to people like me and my team is, ‘Your life and the lives of your loved ones do not matter to us; you are disposable.’” [link]

So wear a damn mask. Here is a similar argument.

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2. SOCIALLY DISTANCE

When you are in public (whether indoors or outdoors), you should maintain at least six feet of distance from others. To further minimize risk, you could even maintain at least ten feet of distance from others.

This rule means DO NOT go to a crowded bar, restaurant, beach party, pool party, sand-bar party, etc. where it is impossible to maintain a distance of at least six feet, especially if hardly anyone is wearing a mask.

If you do go to such a crowded bar, restaurant, beach party, etc., then you are not socially distancing and you are running the risk of getting coronavirus.

Now, in this article, I am emphasizing wearing a mask and social distancing. But these are not the only guidelines to follow in order to avoid getting the coronavirus. See the other precautions listed in my previous post “How to Deal with the Coronavirus Pandemic” and see the CDC guidelines.

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In conclusion, the coronavirus pandemic marches on. This pandemic will not end until a safe, effective vaccine is released and widely administered. In order to survive and replicate, the coronavirus seeks to spread itself to as many people as possible. In particular, the coronavirus does not care if you have “coronavirus fatigue” or “lockdown fatigue.” It does not care if you are tired of being at home. It does not care if you have psychic numbing or emotional numbing due to the pandemic and the 130,000 coronavirus deaths. It does not care if you want things to return fully to normal. It does not care if you want the economy to re-open fully. It does not care whether you are a liberal, conservative, centrist, libertarian, socialist, or fascist. It does not care whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. It does not care whether you live in the North, South, Midwest, or West. It does not care if you are depressed, anxious, or lonely. It does not care if you are extremely horny and desperate to party, hook up, or date. The coronavirus DOES NOT care whatsoever about any of this. It is ruthless and extremely contagious. In order to protect yourself and others and minimize the death toll, WEAR A DAMN MASK AND SOCIALLY DISTANCE.

Once this pandemic has fully ended due to a widely administered vaccine, then we can start to repair the widespread physical, mental, and emotional damage that it has inflicted upon us. In certain respects, it will be like re-building Europe after World War II.


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