Saturday 5 September 2020

Six foot rule

HotPress: Use the microCovid calculator
to tally up the risk of particular activities

I was writing about being good at math vs really understanding math. There a lots of youngsters who will be getting top grades at math when the exam grades are published who have never experienced the epiphany of seeing a pattern in the fabric of the universe [one definition of math] for the first time. They will have done well because they have learned a lot of cranks and tricks to answer the questions on the exam without ever striding a haversine out on a hillside. There are three generations of people who have been taught the rules, achieved success and so now believe that rules are more rigid than they actually are. Take speeding and parking: all us institutionalised people acknowledge that double-yellow lines; disabled-parking spots and speed limits are A Good Thing but that for us I'm only going to nip into the chemist for 3 minutes permits parking wherever we want.

Early on in Coronarama, The Man started to cite scientific research to indicate physical distancing was important to prevent the transmission of covid-laden spittle going from one person to another. Thinking that ordinary people are incapable of nuance, let alone thinking for themselves, guidelines became rules by constant repetition. In Ireland it gelled as 2 metres and 15 minutes which on the face of it is far too black vs white. This meeting must terminate at 14m55s because the sky will fall in 5 seconds time.  Same virus in USA but they don't do metric and are therefore allowed 9% closer at 6 ft than we are. 

There's a new paper in BMJ [one of the authors is Trish Greenhalgh]which takes on board some nuance and some additional data to suggest new guidelines which depend on whether trappists or auctioneers are in the room and whether the air-circulation is likely to inhibit or encourage the persistence of floaty aerosols. They've made it more complicated but I really don't think it will make life easier for people as they start to exit lockdown and decide what is and is not sensible behaviour.
That graphic is certainly not something we want to print in the thousands and distribute nationwide to every public venue inside and outdoors. It takes too long to pick out the relevant bits. For auctioneers and choristers: regardless of how many people, regardless of how many of them are wearing masks DO NOT practice your trade in poorly ventilated rooms. 

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