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News you can use on covid-19

Update, May 3, 2020 The indications — not proof yet! — are that larger-droplet infection is the main route of transmission [1]. Probably not the only one, aerosols (small, floating droplets) and surfaces still require caution, but larger droplets seem to be the main one. In news-you-can-use, that means physical distancing and masks [2], any masks, including folded tea towels, are the two most important preventive behaviors.

1) The importance of social distancing, self-quarantining, self-isolating, and the like:

graph showing spread in developed nations
Shows how Hong Kong and Singapore — both with very dense populations! — slowed the spread of covid-19 to about one tenth that of other developed nations by using stringent social distancing, such as closing schools early on.

The general idea is to stay at least 3ft / 1m away from other people, preferably 6ft / 2m. The virus is less contagious than some, so unlike measles, you’re unlikely to catch just from walking past a carrier in the grocery store. Updated to add: Info from Dr. Nancy Jin via LATimes [3], median risk of infection at 15 minutes of close face-to-face time (eg packed in a checkout line buying toilet paper), or two hours in a contained environment (eg class, bus, travel, meetings at work).

And of course, wash hands, wash hands, wash hands. You’ve heard that enough by now and know how to do it [4].

2. What to do if you catch it [5]:

Short version if you have no other medical issues: have Tylenol 325mg (acetaminophen, paracetamol) and/or Advil 200mg (ibuprofen) handy to manage fever. Have a cough suppressant + expectorant on hand, like Robitussin DM or anything similar. Tissues. Make yourself soup that you can freeze (or buy cans of what you like). You won’t want to cook. Stay hydrated! Drink like a fish. This is a lung disease, so humidified air feels better. If you have no humidifier, one workaround is to sit in the bathroom with a hot shower going.

Call ahead to emergency services only if the fever gets too high despite meds (not sure what that level is, over 101F? need to find out!) and if you can’t breathe. I.e. you’re in serious trouble without oxygen or a ventilator.

3) And because knowing how far and how fast it’s spreading and where it’s coming under control are potentially useful: a real time tracker of the incidence of cases [6].

16 Comments (Open | Close)

16 Comments To "News you can use on covid-19"

#1 Comment By quixote On 13 Mar, 2020 @ 00:20

I’m not a fan of Tylenol because it’s ridiculously easy to get liver damage from it if you exceed the recommended dose even slightly. But lots of people swear by it.

The nurse who wrote that post mentions taking alternating Advil and Tylenol if the fever gets hard to keep down. She doesn’t say, but I suspect that’s in order not to get too high a dose of Tylenol.

If fever keeps going up despite all that, then you’re fully justified calling an emergency room!

#2 Comment By quixote On 13 Mar, 2020 @ 22:39

The real time Johns Hopkins tracker which is the last link? There are other versions hosted on sketchy servers and floating around Facebook and email attachments [7].

(Jeeeesus. People can be the pits.)

The link above goes directly to the official site and is not dangerous. Tell your friends and relations to be on guard, though. Not all the Johns Hopkins trackers are from Johns Hopkins.

#3 Comment By quixote On 14 Mar, 2020 @ 19:45

Aargh. Very difficult to have valid information. Now I hear the French government is advising against Advil / ibuprofen because it’s anti-inflammatory, in addition to lowering fever.The last effect you want. The first is not necessarily good in an infection. The French gov says take Tylenol / paracetamol / acetaminophen.

I’ll update if I see that confirmed.

#4 Comment By Earlynerd On 20 Mar, 2020 @ 23:54

Thank you for this post.

I’m afraid the U.S. population is a lot more “dense” than Hong Kong or Singapore, so their experience won’t do us much good.

Also, I’ve seen other warnings about Ibuprofen – my drug of choice – and will heed them for the short term. Good to know aspirin is an alternative.

#5 Comment By Earlynerd On 25 Mar, 2020 @ 05:14

One more depressing example of how sexism matters so much more than science.

Amanda Marcotte, she of the “I’m don’t personally feel oppressed right now, so you should all vote for the not woman” in 2008, she of the hand wringing Rewire abortion rights blog (I’ve bookmarked it as Schadenfreude), is now backing Sanders.

Women without any center will always follow the most expedient man.

#6 Comment By quixote On 31 Mar, 2020 @ 19:29

Earlynerd! Sheesh, that was ages ago. I’ve been on another planet (hah. I wish.) and just came back to get rid of some spam wp flagged for me.

Marcotte is backing Sanders? At this point, the only thing worse in my book is backing Trump, and there’s not a whole lot of separation between them either!

Did you see that despicable comment by his spokesperson or whatever she is (Briahna-something)? Responding to Kamala’s point that covid-19 tests (and treatment?) should be free, she said, “Oh, so you don’t think cancer is worth caring about?” (paraphrasing) What an absolute particle of bathtub scum.

In another time, when jokes were still funny, I read a wonderful book called How To Be A Jewish Mother (subtitle: You don’t have to be Jewish or a mother to be a Jewish mother). It had pointers. One was to give your son two shirts and when he wore one, sigh a bit in a long-suffering way and say, “The other one you didn’t like?”

Briahna-whatnot is the hideously unfunny 2020 update on that. And the fact that Sanders keeps people like that on staff puts him and everybody associated with him way beyond the pale.

Anyway. Hope you’re able to self-isolate and can stay as safe as possible!

#7 Comment By Branjor On 02 Apr, 2020 @ 17:43

You said:

Erm, as far as I know, the US is a country that does not allow people (without certain medical exceptions) to get the TB vaccine at all. Vaccinated people show up positive on the good old cheap skin tests, so you have to use more expensive tests to screen critical populations, such as teachers. And that’s too much bother just so people can be vaccinated.

I got the BCG vaccination when I was in junior high school, about 1964 or 65, age 11 or 12. All the kids did whose parents gave permission. I was healthy, no medical conditions. At the time they only gave the BCG in third world countries, but I guess they considered the Bronx sufficiently “third world” to qualify. It should have worn off by now, but who knows? My last Mantoux test, in 1992 at age 39, was still positive.

#8 Comment By Earlynerd On 06 Apr, 2020 @ 00:34

So – you *didn’t* get my self-quarantining request via the contact form?

Hrummmph. You should ask for a refund – it doesn’t seem to work as advertised.

But I have no problem with taking advantage of this temporary technical flaw (à la Sanders’ 2016 data-stealing staff) to post one more comment:



Really appreciated the rest of your comment, but that …no juster mot was ever empixled.

#9 Comment By quixote On 06 Apr, 2020 @ 21:42

Interesting, about the longlasting positive test effect. Here’s to hoping the underlying immunity is also there!

No, nothing at all via the contact form. Hmph. In Ye Olde Days, it was sent on to my email. Now, not so much as a notification. I must have some setting wrong.

I can’t really blame wordpress. This blog was set up by me from the open source download (and hosted by me on a domain I pay for), so any problems are my own fault. 🙁 And also any refund I get will be what I paid, nothing 🙂 . I have to admit, I haven’t done much housekeeping in two or three years, beyond keeping things updated. So probably some update broke the Contact doohickey-addon.

Self-quarantining request? Sounds interesting.

It’s going to be a little while yet before I can go troubleshoot my Contacts page because I’m up to my eyebrows, wading through bureaucrats for various reasons to do with the Real World right now. On the scale of things so many people are dealing with, my problems are nice ones to have. But they’re still tedious and time-consuming.

Stay safe. Self-isolate.

#10 Comment By earlynerd On 06 Apr, 2020 @ 22:22

Thanks for considering my frivolous posts.

I know all the still employed have a LOT going on, especially if in a field remotely related to this national and world wide disaster.

Stay safe. Self-isolate.

Dangit, I didn’t save the link and now it’s lost in the morass of twitter past, but – there was this iconic video circulating of an African-American guy eating ramin noodles with chopstics, watching a large TV screen with one of the earliest self-quarantine notices.

A huge grin breaks over his face as he rises from his chair and Phil Collins’ “I’ve been waiting for this momemnt” comes up in the background.

That would be me.

#11 Comment By Branjor On 08 Apr, 2020 @ 19:21

Interesting, about the longlasting positive test effect. Here’s to hoping the underlying immunity is also there!

Thanks, that’s what I’m hoping too, but not taking any chances!

#12 Comment By quixote On 09 Apr, 2020 @ 14:52

this is embarrassing. Contact form was sending messages to an address I haven’t used in several blue moons. (The addon transfers previous settings without any error trapping such as “Do you *really* want to use an email address from the Paleolithic?”)

It might work now.

#13 Comment By Earlynerd On 11 Apr, 2020 @ 01:05

Thanks for checking on that and finding out the difficulty.

Although I suspect that you, a true nerd, just couldn’t leave so solvable a problem laying around unfixed. They kinda call to you.

#14 Comment By quixote On 11 Apr, 2020 @ 11:03

I *am* a nerd. No question about that. But I’m also a dreadful procrastinator. Which is why it took so long.

I assumed the addon was stuffed and it would take real effort to deal with it. Instead, the only element that wasn’t functioning was me. A true case of PEBKAC.

#15 Comment By Earlynerd On 11 Apr, 2020 @ 23:05

Lazy nerds – the best kind!

#16 Comment By quixote On 02 May, 2020 @ 22:27

about the longlasting immunity: some better news recently.

For a while it looked like people were testing as positive *after* recovering. i.e. they were getting reinfected and didn’t seem to have any immunity.

But at least In S Korea, the word is those repeat positives were detecting genetic fragments of the original infection, not a new one.

So there is hope for immunity, and hence a useful vaccine!