At last, the scientists studying the spread of the Coronavirus around the world have seemingly reached a consensus on how it spreads most easily. As pressure mounts in certain quarters to “open up” and “get back to work,” we must take their findings into account at every turn.
- Covid 19 mostly spreads through sharing air in interior spaces over extended time. In other words, it makes no sense to hold a business meeting in a conference room, to dine inside a crowded restaurant, to work on a laptop at Starbucks, to stage a family gathering in a living room or church function room, or to pray and sing together in person. Indeed, we run risks whenever we spend extended interior time with those not belonging to our home group.
- Sneezing spreads more germs than coughing, and yelling and singing more than speaking. These activities also spread the virus farther afield.
- Shoppers at stores and supermarkets face a low risk of infection if they practice social distancing, wear their protective gear, and do their business quickly. The employees, however, who spend hours breathing together, face greater danger.
- The virus spreads much less efficiently through touch, but it still makes sense to wash frequently, not to touch your face, and so forth.
- Pedestrians and bicyclists face very low danger as long as they keep their distance and wear masks when near others.
- Outside activities can be dangerous when people gather in crowds on streets or beaches or parks: the “Mardi Gras Effect.” Sun and wind won’t help enough if you don’t keep your distance from others and wear masks.
- A relatively low number of people are unintentionally responsible for wide swaths of infection: the “Prairie Fire or Typhoid Mary Syndrome.” When people without symptoms or unaware they are infected circulate widely and congregate in groups, that single spark can lead to a particularly ferocious infection in those who catch it.
- Even as the rate of infection and death from Covid 19 plateaus or dips, seniors and the immuno-compromised should behave prudently.
- Covid 19 will be with us for many months to come, which requires patience and wisdom on all our parts. Until we have effective vaccines as well as medication for those infected, our health remains at risk.