Monday 18 May 2020


Lord Harris of Micromanagement has started the unpacking of lockdown. From today, mixed doubles tennis or a golf-foursome may be played but not 5-a-side soccer AND only if you live within 5km of your golf club. If you live further out you will be allowed to pulverise the herbaceous borders with a #3 iron: helpless tears of frustration optional. DO NOT LEAVE COMB! Rutger "Ladyhawke" Hair we lookin' at you [R].

Eventually, our Overlords will let us leave our houses when we want; unless we turn 70 before that longed-for exit date and The Man insists on getting us all cocooned up in chokey. On your 70th birthday you'll experience a precipitous drop in your ability to withstand infection. Because USAians never mastered the metric system, they are allowed to be 8.5% [6ft/2m] closer before their risk goes exponential. These cut-offs / thresholds, which The Man gets shouty and in-yer-face about have less to do with minimising transmission and more to do with facilitating enforcement. The 100km/h speed limit applies to everyone - professional rally-drivers and N-plate beginners. The 50km/h city limit applies night and day; whether schools are in or out, at weekends, during lockdown when there's no other drivers and precious few pedestrians. It's just too difficult [and expensive?] to give these limits more nuance to reflect actual risk.

Anyway, and however gradually, we will at some time in the future will be allowed to make our own decisions about where to go and what to do and with whom. Many of you will be thinking, if not actually articulating, what you'll do when the prison doors fling open:
Okay then: put those in order according to each one's risk of you copping a dose of covid while executing  your post-lockdown plan PLP. And another list: how confident are you that each event is in that position w r t your safety. It's obvious (to me) that the numbers / probability matter but it's not obvious what the order should be. Am I too old for First Communion? If not, my face will be at a different height into the clear air to the other communicants and so it may be safer for me than my 8 y.o Gdaughter.

Erin Bromage of U.Mass Dartmouth , immunologist and epidemiologist, has scavenged up some data and analysed it to help you focus on where the red zones should be for you. Go read! Still here? too busy to take 7 minutes out of your busy browsing schedule? Okay Exec Summary:
  • Go somewhere quiet!
    • Best is a Quaker meeting house or zen-do where people are breathing but not speaking
    • Speaking ups the droplet ejection by 10x
    • If people around you are shouting or si♫gi♫g, their transmission rate goes up
    • A single cough will huck up many more deep-lung viruses
    • A single >!sneeze!< will disperse 10x droplets, with 4x the velocity
  • Keep physical distance
    • the further you are from the sneeze the less likely a virus laden floater will alight on your wet epithelia
  • Keep outside
    • Even if you're not in the I felt that firing line, spittle aerosol will circulate for some time before settling to the surface. Outside is more dilute
  • Keep your legs crossed
    • Public toilets have so many fomite surfaces; are used by so many different people; are "cleaned" by people on the minimum wage
    • Aerosol!!!!
  • Avoid birthdays, funerals, weddings
    • Lots of people, gathered from all over, shared food, shared air, shared spittle [even if you adopt a <no tongues> policy.
  • Avoid concerts, sports stadia
    • 2 hours up close and personal with A Lot of strangers. It's like a wedding on crack.
  • Leave home!
    • A very large proportion of cases have caught it from their housemates. 23/7 indoors with your teenage children is a lot more infective than an hour in church or 2 hours at the theatre.
    • 23?/7 For one hour a day you allow the teens out to 'meet their friends' and they [duh, teens!] get a lot more up-close-and-personal than the minister of health would feel comfortable about.
Dr Bromage is reasonable in his advice. It is nuanced and quantitative if not pointlessly precise.  It shd help you weigh the good things to do that first weekend against the likelihood that, 6-8 days later,  you'll have a week of mild-to-moderate symptoms. And believe me mild-to-moderate may be everything and anything up to, but not including, oxygen mask and intubation: Anecdote "‘I have had 14 surgeries. I have had two children. And honestly, my mild case (of COVID-19), I would do any of those over. I can’t imagine being any worse than I was’"
All these streng verbotene Diktate bring to "mind" a limerick, which like the best of them, breaks the rules:
There once was a lady from Bude
Who went for a swim in the lake.
A man in a punt
Stuck his pole up her nose
And said “You can’t swim here, it’s too dangerous.”

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