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Have the protests changed the pandemic?

We cannot let social injustices continue, but we also must respect the rights of fellow citizens who have done nothing wrong to be protected from this pandemic.

The protests probably have indeed changed the pandemic; but first a couple words about food safety and the pandemic.

With all the evening news lately providing distressing scenes of the riots or giving the latest statistics of positive tests and deaths from COVID-19, it really is tough to dream up food safety blogs, so this one will just have a small splash of that topic.

First of all, the COVID-19 virus is spread by aerosolized droplets from coughing or sneezing. It is not spread by ingesting possibly contaminated food that someone with the virus handled at the grocery store.

It is very short lived outside the body, and it is very unlikely to have survived in the grocery store and on produce very long. As long as you wear a mask when shopping, social distance at least 6 ft. and wash your hands after putting your purchases away and do not touch your face in the interim, you will be OK.

But here is what the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reported May 5 in its press release titled the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report:

  • 502 adults were surveyed online in May regarding changes they have made because of COVID-19.
  • 19% were washing their fresh veggies and fruits in a bleach solution, a solution that only 39% knew should only use room temperature water to dilute. This is a big no-no. Hot water causes fumes to rise and we inhale them causing respiratory issues. Worse, 6% reported intentionally inhaling bleach and 8% either gargled or drank bleach or other disinfectant solutions. Thank you, Mr. President, for even suggesting that bleach was a miracle solution to our current problems. Another 18% wiped or misted bleach or other household cleaners to their skin.
  • A total of 39% of respondents were using risky practices to try and reduce their risk of COVID-19.

And what prompted this survey? A sharp spike in phone calls to Poison Control Centers to ask about symptoms probably related to bleach exposure.

Well DUH! We have medicine for crazy, we have medicine for ADHD, but we do not have medicine for stupid.

Speaking of stupid, what about the response to George Floyd’s awful death?

Looting, burning, breaking store front glass, more people being killed, shutting down businesses just when they were getting back into the business of doing business.

Before someone calls me a racist, I do not think I am one. The officers that committed or observed the crime and did nothing should be arrested, tried and justice served. 

I trust they will be.

Are we where we need to be in relations between races? Of course not, but do we need to not only raise financial havoc but increase the risk to all Americans of an uptick in COVID-19 cases because of the rioting, upending reopening timetables and cause potential surges in ICU hospital cases?

Why do I worry? Because tear gas and pepper spray make your nose and mouth secrete more mucous, so if you were infected but asymptomatic you may have just exposed hundreds of others in your rioting crowd.

I want those who may still disagree to look at a little history with me for a couple of minutes.

During the first World War, after the initial wave of the influenza pandemic, the last great pandemic, was waning, Philadelphia held a parade to raise funds for the war in spite of health care providers warning about the dangers of seeing flu cases spike again.

Within 72 hours one could not find a single hospital bed unoccupied. Some 50,000 Philadelphians came down with influenza and some 10,000 died in the month after the parade. St Louis listened to physicians and public health officials and cancelled its parade and fewer than 700 people died in the same time period.

Minneapolis was already seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases this week. My very good friend and the health commissioner in Minnesota, Jan Malcom, publicly stated that the protests would “predictably accelerate the spread” of the virus.

If we see a spike in cases of COVID, possibly because of the riots as Malcom suggests, must we go back to quarantine and shut down restaurants, barber shops, hair salons and, Heaven forbid, golf courses?

It is one thing to gather peacefully and not social distance, but it is another thing to yell and shout spraying spittle all over the place and then ride in a bus to a jail to be held in close quarters with others. Jails have some of the highest rates of transmission, and then the detainees go home to families.

We cannot let social injustices continue, but we also must respect the rights of fellow citizens who have done nothing wrong to be protected from this pandemic.

Demonstrate if you want, you have that right. But you do not have the right to be stupid thugs with total disregard for others health and property. I am a 72-year-old man with hypertension, one of the worst comorbidity factors with the virus. I worry a lot.

This reminds me of the 1960s and I do not want to go back to that level of burning and looting and killing.

So how do I make the stretch to link the George Floyd murder to the pandemic?  It is quite simple, really. Both Floyd and victims of the pandemic cried out:  “I Can’t Breathe”!

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