I’m super mad, and honestly scared. All this death is so needless. Not just here in the U.S, but in the U.K, Brazil and Russia. I’m mad at Italy, Spain, France, China and others too for their initial slow response to Covid19, but at least they have learned and have brought cases and deaths way down. New Zealand all but eliminated it, as has Taiwan, and Vietnam has zero deaths so far. This virus need not linger with us for many more months as we all suffer in anxiety waiting for a vaccine. For the one millionth time, wear masks when you leave the house.
If I am an asymptomatic carrier, and I’m wearing a mask, and you’re wearing a mask, and we stay six feet apart, your chances of catching it would be just 1.5%. Meaning if you put a line of 20 masked people six feet away from me all wearing masks, maybe one of those people catches it. The rate of transmission without masks and without physical distancing of six feet for this virus is anywhere between 2.5 and 3. If 100% of the population wore masks and did physical distancing of six feet, the rate of transmission of the virus would drop to 0.06 if taking a natural R0 of 3. For simple math purposes you could just round it up to 0.1.
If tomorrow, every last person wore masks AND did physical distancing of six feet, within three weeks the spread of the virus would fall off a cliff. U.S new cases per day is like 35k and will likely break 40k a day here soon, and only to get worse from there. Let’s say because of spread from today, in two weeks new cases reaches 50k per day. It’d likely level off for about a week, and then plummet by 90% in week four. By the end of the first month of 100% of people wearing masks AND doing physical distancing, national new cases per day would be down to 5k. At the end of the fifth week, new national cases per day would be down to 500. Week six we’d be down to 50 new cases per day, as a country. Week seven we’d be all the way down to just five new cases per day across the country. At the end of week eight, we’d be at zero new cases nationally. Keep wearing masks and staying six feet apart for weeks nine and ten, new cases stays at zero and most of the late active cases will have recovered. Continue wearing masks and staying six feet apart for weeks 11 and 12, most of the late active cases in the hospitals will have either been discharged or passed away. By the end of week 13, we will have had gone five weeks without any new cases, and we’d be at zero active cases, thus the virus would be entirely gone from humans.
Obviously this is just a dream, and it feels like asking a lot, but it’s truly not. It’s better to just sacrifice the next three months of our lives rather than risk dying or losing those we love forever. Also, the U.S has the most cases in the world, so if every country copied this at the same exact time, all other countries would beat us in eliminating the virus. This would mean that when the U.S crosses the finish line, the entire world would be Covid19 free. We’d all be done with this virus. It doesn’t mean a vaccine isn’t needed, just the opposite in fact.
By sacrificing the next three months to eliminating Covid19, we would create more time for all the vaccines being developed to undergo their normal long safety process, with years of testing to make sure the vaccine works. Also, the first vaccines, even if they work, sometimes provide shorter immunity and then later vaccines improve upon the early vaccines and provide greater and longer term immunity. By taking three months to wear masks and stay six feet apart to eliminate Covid19 in the here and now, we buy virologists the time they need to make the best possible vaccines that provide the greatest protection.
Sacrificing the next three months to eliminating Covid19 would also show humanity at its best and would be a successful trial run to show that we do know how to bring epidemics and pandemics to a screeching halt. There will be future zootonic virus outbreaks. In the last two decades alone we’ve had Covid19, Ebola, Zika, Swine Flu, SARS, MERS, Bird Flu. As deforestation continues to clear land for industrial animal agriculture and urban sprawl continues unabated, more viruses will be unleashed and with a warming climate disrupting ecosystems, virus outbreaks will happen more and more frequently. Those that are airborne viruses spread by breathing through the mouth and nose are easy for us to stop in their tracks. Masks.
The last thing I want to point out, to try and end on a good note. The economic theory of degrowth is spreading. Just as Medicare for All broke through with Bernie Sanders in 2016, the Green New Deal broke through with AOC and The Squad, and abolition of the police has finally broken through into the mainstream with the killing of George Floyd, the theory of degrowth has grown quietly but is ready for its breakthrough moment. Degrowth will prevent future pandemics by ending the causes of their outbreaks. If we can end this pandemic in the next three months, we buy critical time without more mass deaths for something or someone to cause a breakthrough moment for degrowth. So yea. Wear masks 24/7 when you leave your house, and do physical distancing of six feet apart.