Friday Catchall: Coronavirus not easy to mask
The Friday Catchall:
• HANDSHAKES & MASKS — The coronavirus first surfaced in China, but its spread and effects are migrating to the United States.
OK, it is not “migrating,” but it is in the U.S. now. As of press time, still two people are confirmed with presumptive cases of the virus in Arizona. Across the country, at least 11 deaths — 10 in Washington State and one in California – are among hundreds who are confirmed to have it.
(Note, counts of deaths — one site says 12 — and number of cases vary from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Associated Press, CNN and others.)
What is clear? Gone, at least for now, are handshakes and hugs — keep your hands to yourself. Also, sporting events, attracting thousands of people, are risky; even church services and the country’s 1,000 malls are said to be uncontrolled ground. Students going on spring-break trips are being advised to stay home.
Air travel? Flights are getting canceled, mostly because of lack of passengers. Southwest has cut this quarter’s earnings expectations by more than $200 million. Closer to home, for example, my sister and brother-in-law might cancel their long-awaited trip here in a few weeks.
Then comes the warning from the U.S. Surgeon General: “Stop buying masks!”
See, if you and I are talking and you have the virus, you wearing a mask helps me not get it. But if I am wearing the mask, I am not truly protected from the virus (or you), because the virus floating on vapor from you speaking could land in my eyes or on me.
The masks protect the healthy if worn by the sick.
Still, while out and about this week, getting supplies for another project at home, I decided to ask about masks; I would like to not inhale the paint’s spray from my project.
Here is what I found: Harbor Freight is out, “and we’re not going to be getting any more.” Lowe’s and Home Depot are out too; they referred me back to Harbor Freight. And I am referring to any type of mask, and especially the N95 variety suggested to remove the most particles (or viruses) from the air.
They told me to wear a bandana over my nose and mouth (for my project) — something, I guess if everyone did, would keep our spittle to ourselves.
How concerned should we be? “Prevention, not panic,” as the doctor from the county Community Health Services told us.
Here’s how I figure it and what I am hearing: Exercise the right degree of concern; measures taken by somebody who lives near a coronavirus hotspot might very well differ from that of somebody who lives far from one. If I lived in Washington State, I would be worrying more.
In any event, experts say, it is not a simple, cold statistical calculation. Instead, it is colored by our emotions and other psychological factors.
Bottom line: wash your hands, don’t touch anything or anyone, and if you’re sick — stay home.
• CONGRESS — Our lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have approved $8.3 billion for the federal government to fight the coronavirus. President Trump asked for $2.5 billion; Democrats said that’s not enough.
Aside from the checkbook strangeness there, this is great; the coronavirus is a FEMA-level situation.
I don’t know what they’re going to spend all of that money on though. We’ll let you know; if it is on masks, wanna bet they will be $10 or $20 a piece — like those $500 hammers of days gone by —but only if they can get them.
• LOCALLY — As of this week, Yavapai County still has no cases of the coronavirus. We have a climbing number of influenza cases and people with the common cold, which can be confused as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) by the way.
Watch the Courier and dCourier.com for updates.
• QUOTE — “Health is not valued until sickness comes.”
— Thomas Fuller
• PICK OF THE WEEK — (Proving there’s always something good to do in the Prescott area that’s cheap or free): While not cheap or free, Chicago is playing at Findlay Toyota Center, 3201 N. Main St., at 7 p.m. Sunday, March 8 (wwwticketmaster.com). I think I saw them at Red Rocks in Colorado back in the ’80s!
Cheap: A special heritage program, with cowboy poet Don Fernwalt, will be at the Phippen Museum at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 7. The event also includes Will Play for Hay, a Prescott group dedicated to preserving Prescott’s western culture through the music of the cowboy, rancher and the American West (www.phippenartmuseum.org).
Tim Wiederaenders is the senior news editor for the Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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