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Guys, under normal circumstances, I think this thread would be a great idea for injury advice and so on.

 

This is not normal circumstances this year.

 

Don't_Panic.jpg

 

Real talk. The coronavirus is a problem. If you're in the UK, your government's "we're planning to sit back and see who dies" response is a problem. If you're in the US, your government's response is an even bigger problem. (And it's likely to get worse, not better.) They're actively steering the car off the cliff.

 

I hear ya that this feels overblown. It does. Everything feels normal. But I do trust data, and data tells me this is my risk perception that's at fault. I don't have experience that matches any idea of this risk or this government response.

 

The other issue is cultural. We tend to calculate risk in terms of "me and my loved ones", not in terms of community statistics. Like voting, our actions form a part of community statistics that has a much broader impact than our individual vote. You will never know if you were necessary to the problem or the solution when the coronavirus hits your community. You will only know which you voted for.

 

So. Numbers. It's generally accepted that 60-70% of the population will get the coronavirus. For most of them, it won't be too bad, maybe bad bronchitis. But the fatality rate is high. On the conservative end, based on current US response, we're looking at about 1% of the entire US population in the next 12-18 months. On the less conservative end, we're looking at 2-3% of the US population. (In contrast, if we'd emulated measures taken by South Korea, we'd be looking at projections more like 0.4% of the population, 5-10x fewer people. So community management helps.)

 

I don't know about you, but the idea of 1% of the population dying in the next year - let alone up to 3% - is a little mindblowing. I'm not sure I can wrap my head around that.

 

Here's one of the big differences in outcome, when it comes to fatalities:

 

Flattening-the-curve-860x469.png

 

You're probably going to hear more and more about flattening the curve, because, unlike previous crises, there is no top-down crisis management effort to accomplish this. Some states are stepping up, some businesses and universities, but mostly it's now on us.

 

Two more posts following: one on taking care of yourself, the other on taking care of your community.

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First, taking care of yourself.

 

Forget toilet paper. This isn't a hurricane, stores will still be there. The risk to prepare for is you and your household being sick. Medicine is what's going to be hard to get when this hits, so stock up now.

 

This is essentially a highly deadly common cold, so treat it like you would a cold. Except that where we'd normally get meds as an afterthought for our comfort, now we lean in and use that shit as personal risk reduction. The ER can only treat the deadly symptoms, and if we go the way if Italy, they'll only be able to treat a fraction of the people who come in. Your job is to manage symptoms and avoid the ER.

 

Also, if you or your loved ones do have medical complications, especially respiratory, contact your doctor ahead of time for recommendations on extra measures and what to do in an emergency. Have a plan. See if you can get some help in advance to avoid hospitalization.

 

The main risks as I understand them are fever and trouble breathing. Also, that cough will be a bitch. I am not a medical professional, but here's what you want, according to my research:

 

Acetominophen, like Tylenol, and, if I'm translating correctly, paracetamol. (This used to recommend both ibuprofen and acetominophen based meds, but the WHO has since recommended not using ibuprofen.)

 

Mucinex-style expectorant.

 

Think about night and day treatment and cough suppressant; treat rest like a medication in its own right. You're taking every advantage you can.

 

Cough drops, including sugar-free for nighttime.

 

Think about humidifiers or other steam delivery. Breathing is one of the big killers, near as I can tell.

 

Hydration. Tissues. Rest. Prepped food and soup.

 

Yes, it's all common cold stuff. The coronavirus is in that family. I know it's hard to take that seriously. But your goal is to manage the hell out of it, and keep your symptoms from going pro. Keep the load off the hospitals.

 

Also, get your parents squared away. Supply them. Educate them. Set up support systems for them. The mortality risk skyrockets exponentially over age 60. Your kids will probably barely notice if they catch it (though they can communicate it easily), but our parents will be lucky to survive it, if they catch it.

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Second, taking care of the community.

 

There's the obvious meaning: help people at higher risk get groceries and medicine without leaving their homes, if you're a college student sent home consider offering childcare to a first responder, etc.

 

But then there's the statistical version we have trouble getting, cuz human brains don't think in mass statistics. Flattening that curve up there can be majorly accomplished by this "social distancing" you're probably hearing about. It doesn't even need to be absolute.

 

It's about cutting down the possible routes the virus has to reach new targets, so that its progress through the community is slowed. It's not primarily about keeping yourself safe, or your family. It's about slowing the infection rate so the hospitals can keep up, and fewer people die.

 

60-70% of us will get it. I'm not personally imagining I'll avoid it. But I can slow it from reaching me, and from reaching the people I'm a vector to. I'm now working from home, as is my office mate. We have that luxury. We haven't ruled out going in, if we need equipment. We'll just try to reduce the number of people we see. Every day we don't go in, every day we see five people instead of sixty, we're cutting down a massive number of possible exposure routes, for ourselves but even more for all those other people we would have linked. I'm the link between the forty people I meet on my commute and the twenty people I see in the office, and then the forty people I meet on the commute home. If that link isn't there four days out of five, that's a hundred rolls of the dice I've stopped every day I don't go in. They're individually very low risk rolls. But the slower those dice get rolled, the slower the load on the hospitals.

 

So if your job can't be done at home, you're doing what you need to. But maybe you can do a day or two at home. Maybe you can work in your office but advocate conference calls instead of face to face. Maybe you can start working on postponing social events and clubs, and figuring out how to move things online. This is a good time to suggest a short "let's wait and see before we meet again" period.

 

You, and definitely the vulnerable people in your family, should consider grocery delivery. It's much safer statistically to have the only the people who work at the store in the store, and meet one of them, than to have the whole community spend half an hour in a public place. It doesn't make intuitive sense, but these are the sorts of judgment calls to make. Just reduce the people you meet.

 

In short: reduce voluntary contact, keep it brief when you can't avoid it, keep the numbers of people you meet as low as possible.

 

It's not about keeping yourself safe, though you may gain some time or get lucky. When I'm saying roll the dice slower, I don't actually mean your own, though that's a side effect. It's the dice of everyone you meet or would have met that are getting rolled. Remove yourself as a possible disease vector when possible. It's about flattening that curve and keeping everyone in the community safer. This is one of the best things you as an individual can do, without the weight of a bigger organization behind you. It's known to be effective at reducing deaths significantly, but because it's so grounded in statistics, it looks trivial, or like fear or paranoia.

 

I'm not working from home because I'm scared of getting the coronavirus. Odds are I will, and I'm not in a high risk group; I expect nasty bronchitis. I will cope. I don't have high risk family nearby for me to infect. But I have the ability to do this with little disruption to myself, and it's what I can do to help others. I believe the data, and flattening that curve is important.

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Thank you for these posts. Calm, to the point, and not dismissive of the risk.

 

Can we make government agencies learn from this thread, please?

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2 hours ago, Scalyfreak said:

Thank you for these posts. Calm, to the point, and not dismissive of the risk.

 

Can we make government agencies learn from this thread, please?

 

There's other stuff going on in government agencies right now, man. Like, that's not even the start of that disfunction... I love that people are learning what the actual job of government is, but I wish they weren't learning it on the job in a disaster.

 

But yeah, you're welcome. It's a bad time for this to be something we don't talk about, particularly in light of the fact that we're deeply unprotected by the structures we've been able to count on till now. Communities are going to have to look after their own with information and action, and we're a community, too.

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A good discussion of social distancing.

 

What I'm reading is that this is a really critical period for it; we know a large wave of infections is about to break, but we don't have good information about where or how many.

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Also, I don't have a link handy, but I've seen a graph comparing positive tests done in Italy and South Korea. Italy tested only symptomatic patients, South Korea tested everyone.

 

The important feature of the graph was this: There's a massive spike of asymptomatic people in the 20-29 year age bracket. It's actually the most highly infected age group, but only something like 20% of infected people show symptoms. Which means 80% of infected 20-29 year olds don't know it, and freely infect others.

 

(Reports are that younger children are also often asymptomatic, but there's not that huge spike; my read is that freedom of movement is the difference. Minors have less of it and congregate less, while that age bracket can socialize freely.)

 

If you're 20-29, you have to assume you're a disease vector, even if you show no symptoms.

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Being proactive here about Forum guidelines, let's keep this discourse civl. We normally do a good job of that, so I want to encourage everyone to keep living up to our awesome ability to be the friendliest place on the internet. Everyone so far on this thread has done this. I'm not calling anyone out, just being aware heightened tensions like what happens in a pandemic can make civil discourse require more intention to be civil.

 

Having said that, here are some dos and don'ts.

 

Do: Express your opinion kindly

Do not: Belittle those who hold different opinions

 

Do: State your own opinions diplomatically if they differ from someone else

Do not: Attack another position

 

Do: Explain why you believe what you believe

Do not: Explain why you think someone else is wrong

 

 

As an example, let's talk about Chili. In Texas, a traditional "Bowl of Red" is meat and spices. However, many people put beans in chili. This causes some consternation amongst chili lovers.

 

The unhelpful way: Anyone who puts beans in Chili is wrong.

The Nerd Fitness Way: The Traditional bowl of Red style of chili does not include beans.

 

The unhelpful way: Chili must have beans.

The Nerd Fitness Way: I put beans in my chili.

 

The unhelpful way: Anyone with the wrong opinion of beans in chili is an affront to the universe and I cannot live free and happy while those people exist

The Nerd Fitness Way: I make my chili the way I like it. Someone else makes chili their way and we can both be happy.

 

I'm posting this from an abundance of caution, much like dealing with the situation in question, I prefer prevention before it seems necessary to engaging in damage control.

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36 minutes ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

just being aware heightened tensions like what happens in a pandemic can make civil discourse require more intention to be civil.

 

Good call, Tank. It definitely touches on some sensitive areas in the case of the UK and US, where there have objectively been some governmental failures in response, and that emotion will only heighten. It would be good not to be sidetracked from focusing on being helpful and finding solutions, rather than venting.

 

It was an area I questioned touching on, for exactly the reasons you mention, but in the end, I decided it was important information for making personal safety decisions. This isn't a normal disaster/epidemic response, and the agencies that normally do their jobs quietly so we don't see the worst of it are not doing that, which changes the safety decisions we have to make for ourselves and our community. Understanding the ways in which this doesn't match our prior experiences, so we can adjust our expectations and actions, seemed relevant.

 

Politics aside, the US response is going very, very badly, and that has safety implications for us. Finding a way to discuss what that means for us, calmly and pragmatically, is important to do, I feel. In most of NF, not relevant. But here, it could help save lives.

 

33 minutes ago, Sloth the Enduring said:

I have strong feelings about beans in chili so I won’t comment.

 

25 minutes ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

This also belongs in the "Do" category.

 

Though I will point out that actually saying you're not going to comment, with no further addition to the discussion, comes very close to a passive aggressive 'Don't' in my personal communication handbook. You're telling both sides of the bean divide that they hold the wrong opinion of beans in chili and are an affront to the universe, and you cannot live free and happy while they exist - witness as proof the enforced yet clearly reluctant silence everyone's backed you into with their wrongness. ;)

 

It's okay to have strong feelings about beans, Sloth. It's okay. I validate your life choices.

 

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17 hours ago, sarakingdom said:

The important feature of the graph was this: There's a massive spike of asymptomatic people in the 20-29 year age bracket. It's actually the most highly infected age group, but only something like 20% of infected people show symptoms. Which means 80% of infected 20-29 year olds don't know it, and freely infect others.

 

(Reports are that younger children are also often asymptomatic, but there's not that huge spike; my read is that freedom of movement is the difference. Minors have less of it and congregate less, while that age bracket can socialize freely.)

 

If you're 20-29, you have to assume you're a disease vector, even if you show no symptoms.

 

This is really important information, because I guess a lot of people are going to be using the symptoms to guide their behaviour: "I'll self-isolate if I have a cough". I didn't want to go to the doctor (I even made a video appointment) because I was short of breath, but they convinced me to come in. Happily, I had a mask left over from the fires (CA) and put it on during the bus trip. They said I was low risk (no fever, no cough, no exposure to confirmed case) but how can anyone be considered low risk when they're NOT TESTING people, and people can be asymptomatic? 

Do you think it would be safe to get veggies from a nearby big shop where there are checkout machines? It's usually pretty empty so I could avoid being too close to others. Or is it really best to get delivery? Feeling unsure. Is it okay to duck into the library to pick up a book (also check out machines, no contact with people necessary)? Argh, overthinking is making me indecisive. 

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1 hour ago, Sloth the Enduring said:

Yes. I was being passive aggressive about beans. I meant that as humor. I apologize to those that think red is the same as chili.

 

I can't even fake-fight you on chili, man. Much as I want to.

 

So instead I will advise stockpiling. Stockpile chili and soup in your freezer, for a rainy (sick) day.

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19 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

 

I've seen this, but I'm not sure it's totally reliable. My understanding is that France has always had issues with ibuprofen. I haven't seen citations that it causes problems with COVID-19. This looks a lot like a reinforcement of a previous dislike of ibuprofen.

 

It's up to you how you feel about ibuprofen, but I'm not comfortable leaving it out based on the French statement - I'm not aware of their results being found true in anglophone studies.

 

26 minutes ago, Mad Hatter said:

@sarakingdom good stuff with this thread, thanks.

 

Thank you, I'm hoping we can do some good here, and get some people better protected. I didn't feel entirely right ignoring it on NF, especially when health is so on topic.

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1 hour ago, Harriet said:

This is really important information, because I guess a lot of people are going to be using the symptoms to guide their behaviour: "I'll self-isolate if I have a cough".

 

This is definitely a thing, and it's risky even among people who do develop symptoms, because they're infectious for weeks before that. It's one of the big factors in why this spreads so easily - people go so long without feeling sick.

 

So yeah, we should all be reducing our contact with others when we're well, because it might be us carrying it. That age group in particular just needs to be aware there's not even that two-week limit on being infectious without knowing it.

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1 hour ago, Harriet said:

Do you think it would be safe to get veggies from a nearby big shop where there are checkout machines? It's usually pretty empty so I could avoid being too close to others. Or is it really best to get delivery? Feeling unsure. Is it okay to duck into the library to pick up a book (also check out machines, no contact with people necessary)? Argh, overthinking is making me indecisive. 

 

My grocery shopping will be done online, with pickup or delivery, until the pandemic is over. And with regards to food, it's very important to keep the following piece of information in mind: Virus dies in extreme temperatures. So regardless of where your veggies have been, if you scrub them under running water, and then apply an extreme temperature to them, they will be safe to eat. Obviously you should wash your hands before and after touching the veggies, but that should already be a part of your basic kitchen hygiene routine. 

 

So yes, roast the veggies.

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24 minutes ago, sarakingdom said:

I've seen this, but I'm not sure it's totally reliable. My understanding is that France has always had issues with ibuprofen. I haven't seen citations that it causes problems with COVID-19. This looks a lot like a reinforcement of a previous dislike of ibuprofen.

Oh I see, didn't know that. Thanks for that. It mentioned Germany as well so I didn't expect it to be political, but maybe they have the same issue.

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1 hour ago, Harriet said:

They said I was low risk (no fever, no cough, no exposure to confirmed case) but how can anyone be considered low risk when they're NOT TESTING people, and people can be asymptomatic? 

 

Not testing is a big problem in our response on the broad population level, but don't panic on the personal level. I think exposure is higher than we know across the country, but not currently so high that a single symptom should worry us as individuals too much. Be cautious but practical, is my motto.

 

I found it very helpful to stop thinking about getting it or not getting it, and focus solely on improving the odds at every stage. We don't have total control over whether we get it, and most of us will. We can only make good choices to improve outcomes at every possibility. Immune system support, social distancing, hygiene before getting it. Being prepared to rest and treat symptoms fast if (when) we do get it. Just do what I can to change the odds on the next worst thing. It won't hit all of us at the same time, and it won't hit all of us as hard. My job is to delay it as long as possible, and make it as home-treatable as I can. So I'm doing a lot more planning for when I get it than worrying if I have it.

 

1 hour ago, Harriet said:

Do you think it would be safe to get veggies from a nearby big shop where there are checkout machines? It's usually pretty empty so I could avoid being too close to others. Or is it really best to get delivery? Feeling unsure. Is it okay to duck into the library to pick up a book (also check out machines, no contact with people necessary)? Argh, overthinking is making me indecisive. 

 

Everything we do is risk reduction, not risk prevention. This guide to social distancing may be helpful. It has some good discussion of moving your trips to off-peak hours and thinking in terms of outside clothes and inside clothes. All these things you mention are safe-ish. Everything we do, done carefully, is safe-ish. No one can give you a black and white "that's okay" about the safety of anything, because there isn't one. It's probably fine. It's very fractionally more risky than not going, but not measurably on any single trip.

 

So, yes, delivery is marginally, fractionally safer, but I mostly do it because I already did it. I am getting my parents into it, and that will be a change for them. Their risk is much higher than mine, so that fraction of a percent matters. If you're high risk due to health complications, it might be worth it. I am planning a grocery store trip at off-peak hours, but probably just the one, because I use public transit. I do have things to return to the library, and I'm not worried about it. (Though I'm still doing most of my borrowing digitally, so it's not a big behavior change, or a big risk to make the one trip.)

 

It's sort of like going to work. Do the things you need to do in your life, as safely as you can. Just shift the odds where you can. Change the ratio of higher to lower risk things you do, and reduce the risks of the higher risk things. Nothing you do will be The One Thing.

 

Except licking strangers. Stop doing that.

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1 hour ago, Mad Hatter said:

Oh I see, didn't know that. Thanks for that. It mentioned Germany as well so I didn't expect it to be political, but maybe they have the same issue.

 

It doesn't mean the article's necessarily wrong, I just don't have the expertise to more deeply evaluate the claim. But I do know there are sometimes cultural oddities in testing. Germany frequently gets very good results in studies on certain herbal remedies that can't be replicated in the US. The only way to assess the results are "it works... in Germany". I could easily imagine something like that being the case in France with ibuprofen; their studies may be good, but for some reason not replicable outside of France. And sometimes a country's official recs just place a different priority on things. Both science and the regularization of science sometimes have odd inconsistencies.

 

I don't really know what to do with that, except follow local advice, unless I have some reason not to. You can't avoid everything there's a bad study or national disrecommendation somewhere on, or you'd rule out tons. So it's something to keep an eye on, but, yeah, I'd personally take it with a grain of salt until I see WHO or US recommendations. I don't want to rule out a fever reducer if it only exhibits problems in France.

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45 minutes ago, sarakingdom said:

Except licking strangers. Stop doing that.

 

Or letting them sneeze on you. Stop doing that too.

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Thanks for these posts, it helps to let things sink in.

 

It has really dawned on me this Friday, as our government (Switzerland) took containment measures and I was still planning to meet friends, that:

  • I'm not immune to the virus (I could very well have it right now) ;
  • me having good chances not to suffer too hard from it doesn't make me immune to spreading it.

 

So it's really a matter of avoiding mixing communities to avoid the spread of the virus between them. If I have to go to work and meet my colleagues every day, that's ok (though it should be avoided in every instance where it's possible), but I really shouldn't call in long lost friends to have a gathering over the weekend because I could, either:

  • spread the virus among my friends and have their communities be exposed to it;
    or
  • get the virus from my friends and spread it around toward my colleagues.

 

The main things I get out of this is don't panic, act smart (social distancing and hygiene), don't be a smartass (the last part is the hardest one, I find).

 

 

1 hour ago, sarakingdom said:

Except licking strangers. Stop doing that.

Awwww, :( seriously?

 

 

18 minutes ago, Scalyfreak said:

Or letting them sneeze on you. Stop doing that too.

And if you really have to punch them to make them stop, refrain from it and don't touch them with your hands. Kick them instead.

 

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1 minute ago, Jean said:

The main things I get out of this is don't panic, act smart (social distancing and hygiene), don't be a smartass (the last part is the hardest one, I find).

 

1 minute ago, Jean said:

And if you really have to punch them to make them stop, refrain from it and don't touch them with your hands. Kick them instead.

 

😂

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I said it was hard, dammit! I'll try to be a smartass in my corner and avoid spreading it in the future. xD

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