The coronavirus is not going away soon

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This may come as a shock to many of you, but social distancing, business being shut down, school closure -— elementary through college — and the cancellation of all sporting events will not make the coronavirus go away.

Closing down our economy is only doing one thing — slowing the spread of the disease. Which has been the whole purpose of this, from the start, to “lower the curve” so our hospitals are not overwhelmed. Which for all practical purposes we appear to be succeeding in.

There are only two things which will severely slow and maybe stop this disease so life can return to normal, a vaccine — which experts tell us is 18 months away — or herd immunity.

According to a report on Fox News “Dr. David Katz, the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Connecticut, has warned that while social distancing is helping to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, it is also preventing the development of the “herd immunity” needed by the public to resume their normal lives before a vaccine is developed.”

Herd immunity, which has nothing to do with cattle, is when a significant percentage of a population builds up immunity to an infectious disease. This provides indirect protection to those who are not immune to the disease.

For example, if 80% of a population is immune to a virus, four out of every five people who encounter someone with the disease won’t get sick (and won’t spread the disease any further). In this way, the spread of infectious diseases is kept under control. Depending on how contagious the infection is, usually, 70% to 90% of a population needs immunity to achieve herd immunity.

Some believe that areas in the State of California already have herd immunity. They theorize that California was introduced to the coronavirus last fall before it was known.

Evidence of this is that in early April California had 374 reported COVID-19 fatalities in a state of 40 million people, compared to New York which has seen 14 times as many fatalities and has a population half that of California. Social distancing could be playing a role but New York’s stay-at-home order went into effect on March 22, just three days after California.

Currently, researchers at Stanford Medicine are working to find out what percentage of Californians have already had COVID-19 by testing 3,200 people at three Bay Area locations

Hopefully, this summer will see a further reduction in the coronavirus as many flu strains are seasonal.

But many experts are predicting that it will return this fall. The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 lasted from January 1918 to December 1920, almost two full years.

We cannot afford to keep our economy closed for two years.

One positive of the Covid-19 slowdown is that it has given doctors and researchers needed time to develop the best strategies to combat this virus.

For instance in March the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, was requesting 30,000 ventilators from the federal government. Now critical care physicians are finding that many Covid-19 patients can be treated without ventilators, using breathing masks used in sleep apnea, at least to start with.

There are a few benefits from the stay at home orders by our Governor. First, from talking with owners of area hardware stores, it seems that the interior of many homes are being cleaned up and given a new coat of paint.

Second, high demand for sewing machines may mean that the younger generation is taking this time to learn to sew from their mothers and grandmothers. Who knows maybe in nine months there will be more hand made quilts to go along with an anticipated baby boom.

People on lockdown in the cities are buying up plants to decorate their apartments — partly because they are home 24/7 to care for them and also plants can be soothing during stressful times.

Vegetable gardens for those of us in rural areas are predicted to be a big boom this year.

In our household, Connie has used her added time at home to spread mulch around our hostas and daylilies. This is at least four weeks earlier than normal. In some beds, we have spread the mulch before the plants were more than a couple inches out of the ground.

Stay healthy and happy planting.

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