On Thursday, Seattle had 35 new cases of Covid19, and on Friday we had 28 new cases. Seattle and King County have just been approved to go to phase two of reopening though. Seattle has a population under 800k. Beijing throughout the past week has been experiencing roughly the same number of new cases per day as Seattle, but with a population of 21 million people. In other words, Seattle has more new cases per day per capita than Beijing by a long mile, and yet we are reopening while Beijing is shutting down. If Seattle were to be as serious about combating this virus as Beijing is, we would take the same drastic measures with 1 case for every 25 cases that Beijing has. To put it bluntly, if we really wanted to end the pandemic, we would completely shut down with no more than two new cases per day. Shutting down the city at two new cases per day would produce zero new cases within two weeks.
I understand that as we are not an island city or country, we wouldn’t be able to stay at zero even if we got there, because people from other nearby cities would bring it back in. That said, getting it to zero would allow contact tracing to be done much easier, thus ensuring new cases stays in the low single digits. At the current levels of infection in the U.S, it is impossible to successfully do contact tracing. You have to suppress it a lot with hard lockdowns to get the cases down, then mandate mask wearing in all indoor public settings.
High population density does not in itself cause huge spreading of the virus. As populated as China is compared to the U.S, its major cities are just as sprawled out as our cities. Beijing for example, has a population of 21 million people which is massive compared to Seattle, but is believe it or not only half the density. Wuhan is just a bit larger than NYC in population but much less density. We do not need to combat the virus as one whole country, but rather city by city. Unfortunately at this point, the virus is so widespread everywhere that we need to simultaneously all do a Wuhan level hard lockdown for two months to crush it. Get it to single digits if not zero city by city. Then in month three move to shelter in place, to allow the cases to keep falling. Only by month four should a partial reopening begin, with mandated mask wearing in all settings, even for outdoor exercise. By month five you can expand the reopening and just have mandated masks for all indoor public settings.
This isn’t going to happen of course. There’s zero political will, even among the Democrats, to reimpose shelter in place orders, much less lockdowns as hard as Wuhan did. Political and business leaders are willing to let USians keep getting infected and die. They don’t care about us. Only their profits.
We’re in month six and the progressive west coast governors are only now beginning to mandate mask wearing indoors. It is a shame that U.S health officials early on told people not to wear masks and that they don’t work, rather than telling people to wear masks but don’t buy the N95 ones because we need them for the healthcare workers. They hurt their credibility among the general public, thus making it harder for compliance when they later changed course and told people they should wear masks. Any person with a brain knows that masks work to prevent spread of any airborne virus, not just Covid19. People wore masks during the Spanish Flu of 1918. Healthcare workers wear them all the time because of the diseases they face in medical facilities, and they wear face shields and protective clothing. Hell, when I’ve been wearing my mask during this pandemic, it’s helped with my allergies as the mask also blocks out pollen, although I have to put my hood on/t-shirt over my hair to keep the pollen out of my hair. Even without Covid19, if people wore masks, there’d be less spread of the cold, the flu etc. When future airborne viruses come, and they will come if we keep fucking with ecosystems, wearing masks will prevent their spread too.
So yea. When you truly think about it, this virus isn’t all that hard to beat. We don’t need to wait in agony for six more months for a vaccine to be approved (one will almost surely be approved by the end of the year) or 18 months for when everyone who wants to be vaccinated is done so. We don’t need to sacrifice for two whole years just to be done with this thing, we just need to truly sacrifice three or maybe four months and then all wear masks when in public indoor settings. With hard lockdowns and universal mask wearing, you could have your sports back, your movies back, your water parks back, your first class suite flight on Emirates to Dubai to go indoor skiing in the middle of the desert and yea. Plus, if the worst case scenario is you have to wear a mask when indoors for years to come, think of how much less people will get sick every year. We’d be healthier in general. Obviously that won’t happen, so bleh.