The future of COVID-19
It appears that, vaccines nonwithstanding, COVID-19 will be endemic for a long time. Enforcing masking and social distancing/lockdowns are not sustainable in American society. We need engineering fixes that don’t depend on each person’s sense of civic responsibility.
Kevin Drum points to two engineering fixes that would dramatically reduce infection rates: better ventilation and installation of far-UV illumination. As he notes,
“Here in California, we’ve spent billions earthquake proofing our infrastructure. Why don’t we do the same for virus proofing?”
Read the rest here: “Civil engineering—both high and low tech—can help fight COVID-19,” Kevin Drum (jabberwocking.com)
If you read the link, be sure to read the comments. it’s hard to tell who the trolls are, but some of the coments seem well-informed enough to warrant further investigation before investing in “engineering solution.”
Some of the comments reflect lack of knowledge that I think I have learned from other sources that I trust. No guarantees here either, of course. But in the end, even these “engineering solutions” will depend on someone’s sense of civic responsibility and ability to pay for them.
My answer [you wee afraid of this] : outdoors is best, distancing (don’t call it lockdowns) is essential,
masking helps but by no means foolproof especially for long close proximity in enclosed space.
Very early response with intelligently targeted social distancing is the best answer for stopping a pandemic in it’s tracks, or at least dramatically slowing the spread while waiting for “the vaccine.”
For what “intelligently targeted” means see “The Premonition” by Michael Lewis.
As to enforceable in American society, they would be with real leadership, not with leaders who advocate against masking and distancing. Once enough people…in any locality…accept masking and distancing, the people will enforce it themselves….without pointing a gun at anyone.
Better ventilation was imposed to fight tuberculosis. When I was growing up, it was hard not to notice that all the schools had extremely high ceilings, twelve feet or more. Older hospitals were like this too. A lot of it was imposed as part of the fight against TB. This was a big thing in NYC which had the first city health department in the US.
One side effect is that NYC apartments are often overheated. Landlords were required to provide sufficient heat to warm tenants to 68F, but, since proper ventilation was required, they had to do this even if the windows were wide open. To get a certificate of occupancy, a landlord had to supply a lot of heat. Since most tenants close their windows when it is cold outside, their apartment gets way too hot. This would be less of a problem with a modern heating system, but with steam heat, the steam pipes run from the boiler in the basement up to the top floor apartments. Even if you turn off your radiator, the steam pipes will still heat your unit, often more than you might like.
P.S. Kevin Drum has some good ideas there, but there are a lot of issues. For one thing, it is surprisingly hard to predict ventilation patterns. For another, UV light at high intensity can cause skin problems and welder’s eye, so adjusting power levels could be tricky.
“This reduction was achieved using Far-UVC irradiances consistent with current American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists threshold limit values for skin for a continuous 8-h exposure.”
If you ever tour the tenement museums, you will notice over every door was a window which could be opened to allow the flow of air. Not a bad idea as the house can breathe. Our new and very tight house has outside air capability and also vents over the doors. The house can breathe.
Transom windows. We have one over our back door. The house was built in 1928.
Exactly! With the rod on the side. We had those in the Grammar school I attended.
i didn’t realize the high ceilings were for TB mitigation. They are nice for other reasons too.
good to hear. it suggests we do know how to build rational houses. i remember living in central florida without air conditioning, yet being comfortable in some houses but too hot in some others, and too cold and somehow “close” in those with air conditioning.
i don’t think any of this will solve the problem of preventing transmission of airborne diseases in close quarters with people who bring in germs from outside contacts. But it might (could) contribute to rational mitigation of climate change from burning fossil fuels to “climate control” poorly designed buildings.
oh, airplanes have great ventilation…i have read… but people sitting next to or near a carrier still catch covid.