Lion of the Blogosphere

How to avoid catching a respiratory virus

Disclaimer: I’m not a virologist or doctor.

This applies to all respiratory viruses and not just the coronavirus.

The most important thing you need to know is that you’re far more likely to catch the virus from someone you know than from a stranger.

It’s obviously really bad if someone who’s infected coughs and sneezes right on your face, but probably the most common mode of transmission is just talking with someone who’s infected. The closer you get to their mouth while they are talking, the more viral load you are potentially picking up from them.

There has been much talk about the importance of washing your hands with soap and water (soap kills the virus by dissolving the lipids that hold it together), and not touching your face after having contact with any potentially unclean surface, and this is great advice, but you are more likely to catch a virus from a contagious person who’s talking to you. It doesn’t matter how much hand sanitizer you use after shaking someone’s hand if, during the process of shaking their hand, they also talked to you and you breathed in their viral emissions. Although hand sanitizer is still a good idea if you’re not near soap and water.

Advice I’ve read on the internet is that maintaining a six-foot distance is safest, and being less than three feet from someone is the serious danger zone.

I suspect the air exchange rate makes a difference. It’s more dangerous to be in a poorly ventilated indoor place, while being outdoors is safer. Opening the windows usually increases the air exchange rate; perhaps one of the reasons why viruses spread less during the summer.

You are very unlikely (but not totally impossible) to catch the virus from just walking past someone who’s contagious. I’d say that the situation where you are most likely to catch a virus from a stranger is a crowded bus or subway. Being smushed next to someone contagious for a half hour or more subway ride is obviously not a good place to be.

When there’s a pandemic going on, avoid getting into conversations with people. Don’t talk to anyone unless you really have to, and keep it as short as possible to discourage them from saying a lot back to you.

While the advice to keep six feet distant and not talk to people is easier to follow with strangers, it’s harder with people you know. Social events (including religious services) and family gatherings are the worst places to be. Face-to-face business meetings are also bad places to be.

As I’ve written before, I think a major reason for why the virus spread more in Italy than in Japan is because Italians are a lot more social.

Famous people and politicians are more likely to catch a virus because they live much more social lives, they talk to a lot of people, have lots of meetings, etc.

Hope this post helps.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

March 12, 2020 at 11:54 AM

27 Responses

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  1. “While the advice to keep six feet distant and not talk to people is easier to follow with strangers, it’s harder with people you know.”

    Not if you follow this great advice from Ron Swanson.

    destructure

    March 12, 2020 at 12:06 PM

  2. New York has the second highest number of confirmed cases of any state behind Washington. Yesterday (3/12) there were 217 confirmed cases. Today there are 224. Now, I also am no epidemiologist, but that sure doesn’t look like “exponential growth” to me. In fact, I believe the number passed the 200 mark on either Monday or Tuesday, yet it’s still just 224.

    Also, news reports say that “only a handful” of the people with the virus in New York are hospitalized, and no one has died.

    Peter

    ironrailsironweights

    March 12, 2020 at 12:07 PM

  3. Cases in the US are doubling about every 2-3 days. That is certainly cause for concern. If you want trending plots, go to
    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/

    Jehu

    March 12, 2020 at 12:58 PM

    • Wrong. Cases are likely septupuling every couple days, but this virums is so wimpy that very few people are ever diagnosed or seek treatment.

      Oregon’s governor is doing her best to wreck the economy by banning any gathering supra 250 people. Never ever let a good manufactured hoax go to waste.

      NWS4EVR

      March 12, 2020 at 3:25 PM

  4. Lion, if you are going to offer some unsolicited advice on this thing, please make it useful. For instance, how can a prole make a little bit of $$$ off this thing. I’m thinking something like this.

    BTW, I guess I’m a dead man walking. I’m Ubering in Las Vegas and my finances are so tight that I can’t afford to stop. Sucks being broke.

    Daniel Heneghan

    March 12, 2020 at 1:39 PM

  5. Daniel Heneghan

    March 12, 2020 at 1:41 PM

    • I’m Ubering in Las Vegas and my finances are so tight that I can’t afford to stop. Sucks being broke.

      Learn to code!

      …tee hee

      E. Rekshun

      March 12, 2020 at 5:31 PM

      • Black female 25 y/o makes $210K/yr coding in NYC after doing some kind of coding boot camp.

        E. Rekshun

        March 12, 2020 at 7:43 PM

      • Recurse Center is one of the top coding camps. They don’t charge anyone tuition, but get money from companies that recruit their students.

        They are big on diversity, stopcrime, language policing, etc. I mean really big on it. I always figured that was just the typical belief system of high-skill programmers in large cities.

        But this girl makes me think something else. $210k is an unbelievable amount of money for a 25 y/o who is probably only an okay programmer. She’s likely very smart, and that number lumps in equity with cash… but still it’s a lot for somebody w/ barely any real development experience.

        I am starting to think Recurse Center makes money off shopping around smart Africans like this girl to big tech companies with diversity quotas. They’d prefer to fill those quotas with people vetted to be somewhat competent. That’s apparently good business niche for RC.

        Lowe

        March 13, 2020 at 6:31 PM

      • “I am starting to think Recurse Center makes money off shopping around smart Africans like this girl to big tech companies with diversity quotas. They’d prefer to fill those quotas with people vetted to be somewhat competent. That’s apparently good business niche for RC.”

        That’s not a bad business model, and there is certainly a demand for their product.

        Mike Street Station

        March 14, 2020 at 9:33 AM

  6. The UK Minister of Health has been infected with Coronavirus and there’s a possibility she may have infected other MPs as well. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in isolation, but mostly as a preventative measure. His absence from a decision making capacity won’t hurt the country one bit.

    Roli

    March 12, 2020 at 1:42 PM

    • Trudeau will still have to make important decisions, such as what is the appropriate quarantine costume.

      Mike Street Station

      March 14, 2020 at 9:34 AM

  7. According to michael osterholm there is no practical way to avoid catching it as it is spread and contracted simply by breathing. Avoiding crowded areas is probably all you can do.

    Two weeks ago I noticed asians panic buying in local stores, now everyone is panic buying.

    Stop and shop on forest has a totally bare cleaning product aisle, and half empty shelves and cases throughout the store. The poor check out dude overseeing self checkout looked shell shocked.

    toomanymice

    March 12, 2020 at 1:44 PM

  8. “Being smushed next to someone contagious for a half hour or more subway ride is obviously not a good place to be.”

    The Tokyo subway during rush hour is as smushed as can be, to a point of requiring subway pushers. Yet Japan is able to keep the number of cases low. I suspect it’s because everyone is wearing a mask and strangers on their way to work don’t talk to each other. So to your list of sound recommendations, I would add that wearing a mask will keep you from less likely to be infected as well. There is still a possibility of the virus passing through the material, but the chances of catching it or infecting others should be greatly reduced.

    telling it like it is

    March 12, 2020 at 1:53 PM

  9. >>> Disclaimer: I’m not a virologist or doctor.

    Why not? Everyone else is now.

    Justice Duvall

    March 12, 2020 at 1:58 PM

  10. You want to go use a UV-B tanning bed for eight minutes or so once a week to top up vit-D.

    I got wu-flued. Woke up with a bit of pleurisy on Tuesday (hurt to breath in all the way). Started running a fever on Weds. Almost better now; will certainly be fine by Saturday. I’m gonna go cough on hypochondriacs now.

    bobbybobbob

    March 12, 2020 at 2:26 PM

    • Some hypochondriacs are masochists, joke’s on you

      Joe

      March 12, 2020 at 2:36 PM

    • I got the kung flu back in late January and had nearly identical symptoms. It lasted all of four days and was the wimpiest flu I ever had. Its most notable symptom was lethargy: I slept 14-plus hours a day. Illness completely gone after day four. It is a hoax…. at least for healthy white people.

      NWS4EVR

      March 12, 2020 at 3:32 PM

      • I read that the average case of Covid19 lasts 6 days. And many people are asymptomatic. I believe that’s the real reason the death rate is higher. Infected people are under-counted and never knew they had it.

        destructure

        March 13, 2020 at 4:16 AM

  11. “Did you hear the new Corona virus joke”?
    “No, what is it?”
    “Never mind, you won’t get it.”

    Peter

    ironrailsironweights

    March 12, 2020 at 5:13 PM

  12. Italy has a problem with the coronavirus because they have a lot of Chinese workers in Italy. They brought them in over the last decade or so to work in the textile industries. Now they are learning the hard way that cheap labor has some undesirable side effects.

    Yankee

    March 12, 2020 at 5:29 PM

  13. Being smushed next to someone contagious for a half hour or more subway ride is obviously not a good place to be.

    I can think of more significant dangers to one’s health when riding on overcrowded public transportation than respiratory viruses.

    enwurd

    March 12, 2020 at 5:38 PM

  14. “but probably the most common mode of transmission is just talking with someone who’s infected.”

    But, probably? As in, but probably my gf is an space alien? I leaned in close to someone on Wed. to ask a question out of earshot. This person’s getting over a cold. No more but, probably please.

    Curle

    March 12, 2020 at 9:54 PM

  15. One avoids riff n raff with an elite career in the same way one avoids the coronavirus by avoiding NAMs n Proles who are more likely to get it.

    Ok, what, who's this again?

    March 13, 2020 at 12:33 AM

  16. A man on public transport collapsed next to (and partly on) me. He came to, was shooed off and last I saw, was in a bench texting. How worried should I be?

    Jesse

    March 13, 2020 at 10:18 AM


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