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comment by johan
johan  ·  54 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: December 2, 2020

174 deaths and 5400 confirmed new cases in the last 24 hours. Travel recommendations for Christmas is coming next week. My plan is still to go see my parents as long as I'm healthy even though it's a six hour drive. Gladly accepting all suggestions for how to do it safely if any of you did something similar for Thanksgiving. I'm planning to do my last trip to the store etc a week in advance and bringing sandwiches and coffee from home to not have to stop on the way. While up there I'm staying out on the island which has like three other households, and only seeing my parents, as well as my brother and his wife who I will be traveling with.





goobster  ·  54 days ago  ·  link  ·  

There isn't any "good" way to do it. You have to contravene most best practices to have any sort of anything with family. Every one of these measures is on a scale, of course, but when visiting family at home, ALL of these factors are at the wrong end of the scale. Probability likes it when you only have 1 or 2 factors in the red zone... COVID likes it when you have ALL of these factors in the red zone.

Here's the nuts and bolts of it:

- the vast majority of transmission happens when exposed for a long period of time, in an enclosed space (pretty much defines any visit with family at home)

- wearing a mask mostly protects OTHER people from YOUR virus, but doesn't do much to protect YOU from THEIR virus (so everyone needs to wear a mask, all the time, which isn't going to happen while eating, drinking, talking, doing puzzles, etc.)

- 6-feet of distance is the minimum to help REDUCE the amount of exposure you get... but again, you in an enclosed space (the house/living room) with people for an extended period of time. So social distancing is pretty much useless in this "family having a holiday together" setting.

- a two-week quarantine before anybody hangs out together is ideal, but impractical. Someone is going to break quarantine procedures, and could be exposed.

- and with symptoms appearing as long as 4-5 days after exposure, that "one quick trip" Mom made to pick up more eggs the morning you showed up, could be the moment she was infected, and she spent 4 days spreading it to everyone else in the house before she woke up with a cough, or over-salted the potatoes because they "didn't taste right"...

My sister works in senior care and lives with my parents in their 70s and 80s. The whole family discussed all of these factors before Thanksgiving and decided FUCK IT, and just went with a Zoom call.

I will also point out that maintaining this level of alertness and awareness is completely fucking exhausting and makes the family holiday social time miserable. You get about 1/2 an hour of people sitting in corners of the room, with masks on, trying not to touch the same utensils, glasses, or hors d'oeuvres... and then diligence breaks down. Someone lowers their mask to cough or have a drink. Someone shares a photo on their phone, and hands it to someone else.

And shit breaks down from there.

By the 2-hour mark, everyone is grumpy about everything, and tired of this shit. At that point, either all protections break down, or people start leaving.

Keep this in mind on your six hour drive...

And I'm truly sorry things are this way. But that's just the situation we are all in.

NikolaiFyodorov  ·  54 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I will also point out that maintaining this level of alertness and awareness is completely fucking exhausting and makes the family holiday social time miserable. You get about 1/2 an hour of people sitting in corners of the room, with masks on, trying not to touch the same utensils, glasses, or hors d'oeuvres... and then diligence breaks down. Someone lowers their mask to cough or have a drink. Someone shares a photo on their phone, and hands it to someone else.

This is true. To date, it seems the only way to combat it effectively is to take the decision making out of the public's hands by instituting a full scale lockdown with statement of intent to suppress it in the community. And doing that is too much like political suicide for many leaders, given the media and information landscape.

goobster  ·  53 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Ultimately, the government's role and influence in this pandemic has been completely neutralized. (At least in the USA.) So there will be no way for the government to effectively control any of this.

It will just come down to individual choice and decisions.

It's all in the hands of us individuals, and whether Thanksgiving/Christmas is worth dying for.

johan  ·  54 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you, I really appreciate some perspective. I'm really torn between not wanting to take or expose others to unnecessary risks, but also really wanting to see them after this awful autumn.

goobster  ·  53 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You are welcome. It is a hard decision to make, I know.

I've waffled several times with my family, and always regretted it later. We'd have a nice time, but then I'd be panicked for a week afterwards in case anyone got sick... and what if someone got sick (even through no fault of my own) and died? How could I ever absolve myself of the thought, "I killed my mom/dad/sister/friend."

veen  ·  54 days ago  ·  link  ·  

If you haven't taken a good look at this Zeit article and tool on aerosol risks yet, you're missing out. Get good masks, bring some for your family.

https://www.zeit.de/wissen/gesundheit/2020-11/coronavirus-aerosols-infection-risk-hotspot-interiors

Personally we're doing a week of quarantine before meeting any at risk family member. Beyond that we're probably accepting the risks. The car drive there will be on the same order of magnitude of danger, realistically.

kleinbl00  ·  53 days ago  ·  link  ·  

This is a totally bitchin' article. It deserves its own post.

One of the things that drove me crazy building the birth center, but not so crazy that I felt like mentioning it, was that the City required us to have a "hospital grade" HVAC, plumbing and electrical system that all had to be designed by a "hospital" engineer. As you might suspect, this is not actually a thing. However, there are building codes for different specialties within licensed ambulatory medical facilities so we had to do that, and we had to hire an engineer that specialized in medical design. As a consequence we spent about $40k extra, and were delayed an extra two months, so that we could pretend to be a hospital as far as the City was concerned.

This was water under the bridge until one of our midwives was freaking out about a potential accidental COVID exposure and complaining about the "cramped, stuffy rooms". At which point I felt the need to shut her the fuck up.

Looked up the specs and ran the calcs - our facility was designed to the same stringency as a neonatal intensive care unit. We aren't quite an operating theater but we legit do more airchanges per hour than a fucking burn unit, especially when we turn on the exhaust fans and leave them on - that literally puts us over 11 airchanges per hour (ASHRAE standards for residential are 0.35 air changes per hour). So fuckin' hell our "NICU-grade medical HVAC system" is on the goddamn website now you damn betcha.

According to this, with everyone masked up, the only way anyone is transmitting COVID during an appointment is if our patients start licking us. So that's nice to know 'cuz fuck, man, they're starting to shut down maternity wards again.

uhsguy  ·  54 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The shit little blue masks are effective? Crazy

kleinbl00  ·  53 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The shit little blue masks are closer to felt than woven fabric which gives them better stochastic barrier performance. They can also (aren't always, but near as I can tell are most of the time) hold an electrostatic charge which attracts small particles.

We've switched from cloth to hospital masks, especially now that we can get them. My walkaround masks are triple-layer woven but I keep a couple KN-95s in the car for when I'm feeling paranoid.

johan  ·  54 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I had not seen that article, thanks for the link. The social spaces of the house are spacious and have 5+ meter high ceilings, which seems favorable. The dining table normally seats 16 people comfortably so social distancing during meals shouldn't be an issue for five people.