August 4, 2020

Endangering Us is Not a Right

By Stephen Tuttle | July 4, 2020


We know a little but still don't know much. 

We know, for example, our refusal to social distance or wear a mask in public spaces makes the spread worse. We know the states that refused to mandate those simple actions are now epicenters of surging infections.

We know hot weather doesn't kill it. If it did, there wouldn't be hot spots in hot states like Florida or Texas or, especially, Arizona. We know heat will ultimately kill it, but the temperature required is at least 137 degrees.

We know the bug can stay active while airborne for up to 4 minutes — not long until you remember how many people you pass in public or in a store in that time. We know it can stay active on some surfaces up to 72 hours but, in real-world situations, not usually in sufficient quantity to transfer infections. We also know the somewhat mystical properties of copper surfaces will kill the virus, but even that can take up to four hours. 

We know COVID-19 wants to attack the lungs but may also cause blood clots and subsequent strokes and cause or contribute to liver damage, kidney damage, cognitive impairment, and particularly dangerous inflammation issues.

We know the notion that this is primarily a threat to older populations is no longer true. More than 30 percent of recent hospitalizations in Florida involved patients aged 15­–34. Nationally, seven percent of those under 49 are testing positive, while only five percent of those over 65 are.

We know the bug has mutated since it first appeared in China, making it significantly more contagious.   

We know avoiding gatherings of people is still the best prevention. We know staying home, social distancing, wearing a mask in public, testing and contact tracing are the only defenses we have. 

But we still don't know a frightening amount. For starters, we don't know how to prevent it or how to cure it. 

We don't know why some infected people are asymptomatic and why some people without underlying conditions get very sick. We don't know why some patients become ill progressively over time and some get very sick very quickly.

We don't know exactly why it causes blood clots or vascular inflammatory problems in patients, especially younger patients. We don't know exactly why kidney, liver, and brain damage can be a side effect in some patients.

We don't know if a recovered patient is immune to reinfection or for how long. We don't know why some “recovered” patients become ill again.

We don't know the long-term effects on, or if there is permanent damage to, recovering patients. We don't even know if COVID-19 antibodies provide immunity. 

We're ignorant enough to stop being cavalier about it. Especially since the death rate is nearly five percent of infected patients, almost 50 times higher than the seasonal flu. In Michigan, the death rate is almost 9 percent. It has always been assumed that rate will decrease as more testing is done, but that hasn't yet been the case. It's also assumed we are dramatically undercounting the number of infected, which, if true, would likely reduce the death-rate percentage — unless we're undercounting coronavirus deaths, too.

The foolishness of all this is we know how to slow the spread and have for some time. Apparently, we're just too stupid or stubborn — or both — to follow the simplest directions.

It's not as if we're being asked to make huge sacrifices. To be sure, those losing jobs or businesses sacrificed plenty. But almost nothing has been asked of the rest of us.

We've not been asked to pay higher taxes or ration gas or save paper or metal or do much of anything. Neither social distancing nor wearing a face covering when such distancing is impossible are infringements on anybody's liberties. There is no Constitutional protection that allows us to endanger other people by being irresponsible.

Left on their own, every state conjured up their own rules. Some, like Michigan, were more stringent than others. Those that heeded the clarion call to loosen rules and reopen their economies have seen huge spikes in cases while we have flattened the curve despite some recent bumps.

But if we keep seeing gatherings like we did last weekend on Lake St. Clair, a Convention of Numbskulls in boats, we will have our own surge, and Gov. Whitmer will have no choice but to shut us down again.

We know masks will reduce the amount of droplets and aerosol spray by up to 50 percent. We know social distancing works even better. Neither of those requirements places an undue burden on the overwhelming majority of us. If you don't care if you get sick, well, good for you. But you have no right to endanger everybody else. None. 


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