Common Sense in the Time of Covid-19

Common Sense in the Time of Covid-19

© David Burton 2020

Common Sense

     Day and night, we have been constantly bombarded with advice on how to defend against getting infected with Coronavirus. Much of the advice being given is of dubious value, some of it being blatantly wrong and even dangerous if followed. While advice from competent sources, based upon scientific evidence and testing, should obviously be listened to and followed, common sense should be used. People should carefully consider the advice being offered and then use their common sense to decide on whether or not to follow the advice.

     Let’s start with a simple example of using one’s common sense. In the 26 April 2020 edition of The Boston Globe Magazine (Ref. 1) we have a person asking MISS CONDUCT about the proper etiquette of passing someone on the street. “My husband and I are struggling to figure out the etiquette when we see another walker approaching . . . Should one move off the sidewalk to allow the other to pass? Who has the right of way?”

     Let me offer a piece of common sense advice. Stay separated to the extent possible and hold your breath while passing. Don’t jump off the sidewalk into moving traffic! Simply holding your breath for a few seconds means that you won’t inhale any dangerous germs and any potentially harmful germs you may have won’t be passed on to the party you are passing.

     Let me offer another piece of common sense advice. Under no circumstances, pay any attention to the blather emanating from the so-called brain of the person currently occupying the office in the nation’s White House! “. . . Donald Trump is an ongoing danger to the health and well-being of the American people. [Emphasis mine]
     “Consider, for example, the strange case of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that Trump began publicly touting several weeks ago as a potential treatment for the coronavirus. ‘What do you have to lose?’ the president asked, about a drug that had not been approved by the FDA for that purpose. It turns out the answer is ‘your life.’
     “We already know of at least one couple in Arizona who took a related drug in an effort to ward off the coronavirus after hearing the president speak positively about it. The husband died and his wife ended up in the hospital. A new study of Veterans Health Administration patients, not yet peer reviewed, has concluded that COVID-19 patients who take hydroxychloroquine are more likely to die than those who do not.
     “As remarkable as it is for the president to be suggesting the use of unproven drugs, Trump topped it . . . when he suggested that ultraviolet rays and cleaning disinfectants, injected into the body, should be examined as possible treatments for coronavirus. These comments led public health experts and companies like Lysol to remind Americans of something we regularly tell children: They shouldn’t ingest cleaning products.
     “The Trump administration also allegedly forced out the official in charge of the federal agency responsible for developing a vaccine for the coronavirus after he says he raised concerns about money being directed toward hydroxychloroquine. Pushing aside qualified public officials and allowing politics to drive the development of a vaccine makes Trump not just an incompetent president, but a malevolent one.
      - - -
     “Trump isn’t even participating in the federal response to the coronavirus. He reportedly watches television most of the day, doesn’t attend coronavirus task force meetings, and then uses his daily press briefing — for which he barely prepares — as a platform to self-aggrandize and lie.
     “All of this has crippled Trump’s credibility: As one recent poll showed, less than a quarter of voters put a high level of trust in what Trump is saying about COVID-19.
      - - -
     “Anyone who has regularly watched Trump’s press conferences knows that the president is detached from reality, indifferent to the suffering around us, and more concerned about his political standing than the health and well-being of the American people.” (Ref. 2)

     Common sense should also be applied to the wearing of face masks. Consider the following information.

  • ”As confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, the CDC is recommending that everyone wear a cloth mask when they go out in public.
  • ”Experts say the homemade masks won’t protect someone from getting sick, but they can help prevent the spread of the disease by those with the virus.
  • ”Experts also recommend that everyone continue social distancing and other preventive measures in addition to wearing face coverings.
    - - -
     “Now, as the United States faces an increasing number of COVID-19 confirmed cases and deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has started advising Americans to wear masks . . .
      - - -
     “. . . CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission . . .
      - - -
     “The CDC is recommending, not requiring [Emphasis mine], mask use when going out in public. The agency stressed that the advisory applies to cloth masks — including homemade masks — not hospital-grade surgical masks and microparticle-filtering N95 masks.
      - - -
     “When asked about the CDC recommendation, President Donald Trump indicated that he would not comply.
      - - -
     “You can go out in public areas without a mask if there is no one nearby. Otherwise, regardless if it’s close quarters or spaced out, you should wear a mask with others around. This is precaution and courtesy to yourself and those nearby you.
     “{BUT} A cloth mask alone is unlikely to prevent you from inhaling microscopic virus particles [Emphasis mine], according to Rodney Rohde, PhD, chair of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program and associate dean for research at the College of Health Professions at Texas State University.
     “ ‘The coronavirus will go right through cloth and bandanas… but it will provide a bit of respiratory protection, which can reduce depositing of droplets of the virus on surfaces and to people near you,’ . . .
      - - -
     “N95 masks, which are worn by medical professionals who come into close contact with those with COVID-19, are actually respirators.
     “They form a tight seal over the nose and mouth and filter all air coming in or out.
     “Cloth masks, on the other hand, are much more akin to surgical masks, which are not airtight and are primarily intended to prevent healthcare workers from spreading germs to patients.
     “Cloth masks ‘protect the environment from the wearer, whereas respirator N95 masks protect the wearer from the environment’ . . .
      - - -
     “What wearing a mask won’t do, however, is take the place of other, more important COVID-19 prevention protocols, such as social distancing and handwashing.
     “ ‘Masks may lead to a false sense of protection’ . . .
     “ ‘If you put on a mask and then go into a grocery store and touch everything, your risk is going to go up’
      - - -
     “However, without an airtight seal, none of those {masks} will provide significant protection against the contraction of the virus for the wearer.
     “On the other hand, almost any cloth mask will capture exhaled droplets of virus-containing moisture and cause them to consolidate on the inside of the mask rather than being spread in the environment . . .” (Ref. 3)

     So, while wearing a run-of-the-mill facemask is not likely to prevent one from contracting the Covid-19 illness, it can significantly help in preventing one infected with the virus from spreading it to others.

     While the N95 respirator blocks at least 95% of tiny particles, including viruses (The name N95 comes from the fact that they can filter 95 percent of airborne particles.[4]), cloth and paper face masks typically block only about 2 to 20% of these particles.[5] Wearing a cloth or paper face mask is therefore highly ineffective in preventing one from contracting the Coronavirus. It is better than nothing, but not much better. Use common sense - Frequent hand washing and social distancing are much more effective in protecting oneself.

     I understand that in the initial rush to halt the spread of the Covid-19 virus, it was prudent to impose generalized and sweeping restrictions. However, after the initial rush to be on the safe side, common sense could have been used to allow some beneficial and safe out-door activities, e.g., opening up golf driving ranges – driving tees are separated by more than 6 feet and clubs and balls can be sanitized after use; opening up golf courses – golfing parties can follow social distancing rules and club houses can remain closed; opening up tennis courts – players can follow social distancing rules and no hand shaking after games; opening up walking/bicycle trails – users can follow social distancing rules. The benefits of fresh air and exercise far outweigh any dangers of virus transmittal with the use of common sense precautions.

     Here are some other suggestions:
  • If you wear a mask, make sure it fits snugly and take it off carefully.
  • Always avoid contact with your eyes, nose and mouth while taking a mask off. Wash your hands immediately afterwards.
  • Get lots of fresh air.
  • Instead of staying locked in a stuffy closed home with little air circulation, get out and walk in any open space.
  • If you must stay home, open up the windows, if possible, and let in lots of fresh air.
  • Don’t blindly accept all advice being offered as legitimate.
  • Keep your brain and your common sense engaged at all times.
  • Above all – don’t simply accept all advice being offered as valid and useful. Use common sense and listen to trustworthy sources before accepting advice on how to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
  1. Upfront - Walk This Way, Robin Abrahams, The Boston Globe Magazine, Pg 12, 26 April 2020.
  2. Say it loud, say it clear: Donald Trumo needs to resign, Michael A. Cohen, Boston Sunday Globe, Pg K2,
    26 April 2020.
  3. Why Face Masks Are Crucial Now in the Battle Against COVID-19, Boib Curley, healthline, 6 April 2020.
  4. Does Wearing a Mask Protect You from the Flu and Other Viruses?, Alana Biggers, healthline, 18 March 2020.
  5. Can homemade face masks help limit the spread of the coronavirus? Scientists can't agree, but here's what you need to know., Gabby Landsverk and Hilary Brueck, Business Insider, 3 April 2020.


  14 May 2020 {Article 413 Govt_81}    
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