By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."
Just this morning, I was listening to Governor Cuomo (of New York State). They have created a “containment” zone in the town of New Rochelle – just north of Manhattan. It is about two miles square. And the state has called out the National Guard to (do what – unclear?). It has a population of approx. 80,000 people – which makes NY City about 100 times larger.
As of today, New Rochelle had about 500 reported cases of COVID-19 – while NY City had about 50. So do the math and one concludes that one shouldn’t go anywhere near New Rochelle. Only problem with this is that there are a half dozen public transit systems that connect New Rochelle with Manhattan.
So unless somehow every passenger on these transit systems holds their breath from the time they leave their homes until they complete their work day in the city and then get back to New Rochelle – I’m afraid that there is nothing short of immobilizing every person in New Rochelle that will prevent the virus from spreading.
Worse than breathing it in, this virus (and others) can live for some period of time on just about any surface. So think of riding the subway into Manhattan. You purchase a token – or take out your MetroCard and insert it into the machine. Then you push on the turn style and enter the system. Guess what, you or someone else has just left their “imprint” on the turn style – so the very next group of riders are going to touch the same surface that you just touched.
Now I happen to play tennis four times a week. Guess what I do there? I pick up the tennis ball (covered in fuzz) – which would tend to absorb anything (liquid or mist) it comes in contact with. So once again, this potentially exposes me to lots of things including viruses.
If you broaden out this idea, as soon as you leave your home you are touching surfaces which are touched by dozens if not hundreds of other people. When you go into a restaurant, your food is served by bare handed wait staff – who then plop that plate down directly in front of you.
I heard on the Today show that unless you specifically work at it, you tend to touch your face up to 100 times a day. So the potential entry points on your face (mouth, nose and eyes) for a virus are right there.
So, a good question is: “Why aren’t we all dead yet?”
First of all, the worst types of pandemics have a mortality rate of only a few percent. If you are elderly and naturally you have a somewhat weakened respiratory system, you are more susceptible than others. As far as I can recall from reports, no one under the age of 15 has contracted COVID-19 as yet, but I can’t say with any certainty about China.
Then there is the most important reason of all. We all have natural defense systems in place. The human immune system allows the body to create anti-bodies which happen regularly whenever the human body encounters any strange microscopic diseases. So even if someone with COVID-19 sneezes directly into your face, it is still not inevitable that you will contract the disease.
Watch, again, the great Tom Cruise movie, "War of the Worlds." Aliens who have been buried beneath the ground for at least decades if not centuries – surface and begin to eradicate human life on Earth. Interestingly, after a while, they start to die off. Turns out their immune systems have never been exposed to the micro-organisms here on earth. And their systems have no natural defense for them.
If you look back at U.S. history, when the Europeans first arrived here, the native Americans started to die off. They had no natural defenses for diseases such as influenza, pneumonic plagues, and smallpox that these settlers carried, although the settlers had some immunity acquired over generations.
So here is my advice (from clearly someone who has no expertise in the matter): Go about your business as you do now.
Don’t start to “horde” supplies as if the “end of time” is upon us.
Wash your hands frequently. Try not to continuously touch your face.
And if and when an infected person sneezes directly into your face, get out your baseball bat and pretend you are at a Piñata Party.