Idyllic Beach and the Toxic Vine

who was that masked man? -- 3/26/2020

In the county where I live, we might not appear to be at epidemic levels yet, but the rate of reported COVID-19 cases is increasing daily at an exponential rate, therefore the epidemic is definitely here. With each passing day, I am feeling more uncomfortable going to the grocery store. So far, rather than making a weekly stock-up trip, I have taken a stealth approach of going almost daily and buying only what I can carry. Thus I do not need to touch a basket or cart, and I can maneuver quickly through the store in such a way that it is easier to keep my distance from store employees and from other customers. Also, I go to a supermarket with automatic doors and self service checkout to further minimize contact with other people and to better avoid having to touch anything.

On my last grocery buying expedition, I wore a pair of exam gloves in order to help minimize exposure. Today, I took another step toward isolation by wearing not only exam gloves, but also a face mask. This runs contrary to the official government recommendation that advises against people a.k.a. "the general public" who are not infected from wearing face masks. When I act contrary to this recommendation I'm not trying to emulate anyone, especially our would be emperor and bloviating purveyor of "alternative facts" who claims to know more than the scientists, the generals, the whomever; I just want everyone to put the CDC recommendation in proper context. That recommendation was published in mid February. Back then, COVID-19 cases were only present in a few states, and no where near where I live. The first death from COVID-19 in the United States wasn't reported until February 29; today the death toll in the U.S. is over 1000. As of this afternoon, there are 179 confirmed cases in Iowa, seven of whom are in my county. Given that presently the only people in my area who are being tested are those who exhibit symptoms, it would be logical to assume that within that general public there are many who are carrying the virus, and who are asymptomatic and therefore unaware that they are infected and transmitting the disease. So I am looking at the last sentence in the answer portion of the attached video that states "Some people who have an increased risk of exposure may need additional precautions, such as healthcare professionals caring for COVID-19 patients and other close contacts". In the context of the current state of the epidemic, I think that any of us who walk into a supermarket could very well fall into the category of "other close contacts". I, therefore, choose to wear a mask, and I really don't care how weird or off-putting it looks to some people.

And I know that the mask and gloves look weird, and it is a look that is off-putting to many, but that is just a societal thing. In Asian societies, wearing a mask when infected with a cold is a common courtesy, and during flu season many people infected or not, wear masks for personal protection and to enhance the well being of society in general. Regardless of the country, however, the behavior of the virus has no regard for anyone's societal norms.

One thing that I really had not considered before venturing into the supermarket today is that aside from creating a personal barrier against the virus, wearing a mask and exam gloves when grocery shopping makes the act of social distancing much easier. People stay away from you, making adherence to the 6 foot distance rule much simpler. So, I think that is how I am going to roll for a while.

Speaking of toxic things, the vine is still under consideration, but my thoughts about it are conflicted. More on that later.

--Bob { Next >>> }

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