Study: Small Penis Size, Not Wearing a Mask Linked
Okay, there’s not a study, but you know it’s probably true…
But, masks don’t actually do anthin…Hush! Of course they aren’t a perfect solution. But like wishing Tinkerbell alive in Peter Pan, if we all pretend really hard then good things will happen. Namely that maybe we can extricate ourselves from political and media fear spiral we find ourselves trapped in and get our economy and our rights back on track.
Now, before any reader consigns us to the brigade of tin foil hat wearers (with MAGA scrawled on that hat somewhere), let’s be clear: the COVID-19 virus is not nothing. We are not suggesting that letting nature take its course among our elderly would have been a viable option. Here at You&Me, when we compare COVID-19 to influenza, it’s to call out our country over our irresponsible lack of response and preparation for a yearly deadly panepidemic, not to try and minimize COVID-19’s potential impact.
The widely varying nature of the available “statistics” on COVID-19 makes for fascinating data mining. They reflect government policy, agendas both hidden and open, the state of a country’s data gathering resources, differences in defining what category a death or illness will be and so on. But they do tend to consistently, considered as a whole show one thing.
They show that the COVID-19 respiratory virus is about twice as deadly as the influenza respiratory viruses we usually see. However, while that sounds terrible, it’s important to think of the actual numbers this statement represents. The flu usually kills, overall, 1 in 1000 people who get it. COVID-19 kills 2 in 1000.
However, statistics also show that we are definitely NOT “all in this together.” Some groups are at a much higher risk.
In the United States, possibly 40% of all deaths are among residents of nursing homes/assisted living facilities, although such people make up less than 1% of the US population. (You may recall this being a news story briefly, until the powers that be realized that that meant we might have to do something expensive about our wretched nursing home care, and that story went away.) And certainly at least two-thirds of all deaths are in the 65 year and above population. In fact, there have been almost no deaths (but not no deaths) in the population below age 40. Again, this is typical respiratory virus behavior. Respiratory viruses are always particularly hard on older lungs, and other respiratory viruses show this same pattern.
Now another interesting fact about COVID-19 statistics is that we are NOT “all in this together” in terms of specific subsets of the population.
In Hawaii, “Pacific Islanders” (People from/of descent from places like Tonga, Samoa, Yap, Palau, the Marshall Islands, etc.) make up 4% of the population, and 30% of the dreaded “cases.” That is, about 57,000 people have produced 2,270 positive tests. In North Carolina, people identified with that catchall term “Hispanic” make up 37% of all reported cases but are only 9.6% of the population. This of course is not due to a virus being “racist,” but a combination of butterfly wings flapping: These groups are often less economically advantaged and therefore live in smaller housing with more people around, they often work jobs that can’t be done remotely, or have no benefits, and they may be just isolated or different enough from the US majority populations that public health messaging has not been as effective as it could be.
So now we know some things. Another thing we know now, if we didn’t already, is that politicians are not usually scientists, or more scientifically literate than the rest of us. But even though we here at You&Me have done our share of criticizing politicians, why should they be? That wasn’t in the job description they signed up for. But it is still a problem, when we have people, however well intentioned, making decisions without the proper knowledge or training to do so.
But they keep trying. Recently, Hawaii experienced a surge of “cases.” Remember, hurricanes churn, and cases surge. FYI, Hawaii still has a very low infection rate, and only 55 deaths, with all but 2 or 3 in people over 65, but perception is everything. In response, the government closed the beaches (for sitting on, you can still go in the water) and hiking trails. However, they initially left the stores, restaurants, hair dressers and gyms open. Even the usually extremely docile Hawaii locals were a bit confused. When asked about their rationale, various bureaucrats had nothing to say except some vague anecdotal statements that “some people who caught coronavirus said they had been to the beach.” Eventually, it seemed good to add in some more “lockdown” so everything was closed…except take-out, pharmacies, grocery stores, auto repair, gas stations, hospitals, police, fire stations, garbage collection, garden centers and so on and so on. Churches are magic, or at least contain a lot of voters, so they can still carry on with as much grouping together as they feel like.
Again, perception trumps reality. People seem to love to get their panties in a wad over beach going, but when was the last time you went to the beach and sat closer than 6 feet to someone you didn’t know? That would be pretty creepy. The author of this piece just got back from working in a hospital in Hawaii. The biggest problem in Hawaii wasn’t people being out in the open-air exercising, instead it was and still is, that people there will not wear masks or socially distance at work, church or in family gatherings.
So, there are a number of reasons why the Hawaii approach isn’t a good one. It doesn’t address what the real problems are and it basically severely disadvantages and stresses everyone. An equivalent action would be if a government became excited because people were dying of cancer and mandated everyone to have chemotherapy. And unfortunately, this approach has been pretty standard throughout the US. Panicked politicians feel they have to do something, anything, and they either don’t get good advice, or don’t listen to it. And then once the infection has run its natural course of eight weeks, as in New York, they will pat themselves on the back and convince themselves and the voters that it was all because of their stay at home orders.
So, it might be fair to ask, do you have a better idea?
Let’s go back to the masks. All kidding aside, can masks do anything? In some ways you can’t blame people for not wearing them. The people we looked to for guidance issued sent out very mixed messages, especially at first. In fact, in the US, bureaucrats first told people not to wear them. One of the features of human cognition is that if we don’t know much about a subject, we tend to believe the first thing we hear much more readily than any later updates. So, telling people, “oh no, you should wear them” later on didn’t have as much impact as it could. And then there is all the confusing information about how strictly masks have to be handled and worn to be effective, how some masks don’t work, how viruses can still get through and so on.
Remember our little joke at the top of this article? If you’ve spent five minutes outside in the past two or three months you’ve undoubtedly noticed that a lot of males have a problem with wearing a mask. How many couples do you see, where the woman has a mask on and the man does not? How many guys with a mask hanging from their ear, or under their chin? Women do it too, of course, but not as much. But if men really thought that people would think they had a small penis if they didn’t wear a mask, they’d wear them. They’d wear five, just in case. The point is, is that there are ways to market to men—many companies make tons of money doing just that, but masks haven’t been effectively marketed to men. Masked models on the internet are usually cute young girls, selling things with flowers on them.
There are three reasons that that’s a shame.
One, masks actually work fairly well if everyone wears them. If we are all hocking our lougies into a mask, rather than onto each other’s faces and touchable surfaces, that really helps. Sure, viruses can get through a mask, but the snot they are trapped in cannot.
Two, a mask protects you, not just others. How? By placing a barrier between your busy, busy hands and your lower face. Most of us are constantly touching our mouth and nose with our hands throughout the day without really thinking about it. That’s one of the main ways people catch respiratory viruses. You touch something someone with snot on their hands touched, you get their germs on your hands and then you poke your fingers into your nose and mouth area. A mask really slows this down.
Thirdly, as mentioned at the top of this piece, everyone in masks would give our fearful leaders an out, in terms of being able to get back to a more normal life; college classes, schools, concerts and sports gatherings. C’mon guys, do it for football!
Here at You&Me, we also think there is nothing wrong with not ramming your cart into the ankles of the person in front of you in a checkout line. Those plastic shields and individually wrapped take-out items are also probably a good idea in general. Better scheduling to reduce waiting times is always a plus. A reasonable amount of social distancing, along with consistent mask wearing are relatively low impact interventions with a decent payoff.
But some of the other things we have tried are more problematic, especially as the jury’s still out on how effective they really were in helping the more vulnerable populations.
Let’s talk about shutdowns, lockdowns and stay at home orders. Gosh, do our elected officials love these. But are they really doing the job? We say no, blanket restrictions are not the way to go. Here are our reasons.
First, we have to acknowledge that these measures come with an extremely high cost. Small businesses are going to be decimated, while the big fat cats get fatter and fatter. More inequality is not the direction in which we want our society to go. You may laugh when younger people complain about missing their high school prom, or their college graduation because you had those things, and they maybe weren’t all that.
But that was their only prom. That was their only college graduation. Now they will never have those things, and yes, that matters.
And if you want something more substantive that affects your children, the economic effects from these lockdowns, and from the massive amounts of money the government is “minting” to pay off unemployed people and companies (which will eventually result in a lot of inflation) will affect your children’s job prospects and earnings for years to come.
Your children’s (or grandchildren’s or your niece’s and nephew’s) education is also taking a hit. Some kids may actually do better with online learning, but studies suggest that this is not usually the case.
And, of course, these economic and education problems are going to have more impact on the economically disadvantaged, and the minority members of our society. The rich are going to be fine; they are sending their kids to private schools which are open, and they have access to educational resources such as computers and tutors. They have assets that they can use to help their kids get jobs, such as supporting them while they attend prestigious colleges or do unpaid internships. The rest of us, not so much.
Some of the “excess mortality” attributed to COVID-19 is not from viral illness. Instead, it’s people who died because they were too afraid to go to an ER when they had a heart attack, or whose cancer treatment was interrupted or delayed, or they couldn’t see a mental health professional for their depression and they committed suicide.
What about the upside? Well, certainly you noticed how there is no more “cases” at all in the US? That was sarcasm. Actually, when people get in contact less, less germs get spread so probably there was some slowing of transmission. Our point here going forward isn’t going to be that quarantines are not an option; it’s that blanket, non-targeted quarantines are not worth the cost to society and do not adequately protect the vulnerable.
One of the main reasons for this is that we are talking about America, land of exceptionalism. It’s a lockdown! Everyone stay in your house! Unless you have a good reason to come out, of course. Here is the reasoning. “Okay, we will have a lockdown to stop transmission. But, oh, we guess people are going to need food, so yeah, grocery stores and delivery from restaurants can still happen. So, we guess people can go to work in those places, too. And we have to let people renew their prescriptions, or call EMS if they have a medical emergency. And we need fire fighters and police, of course. And we can’t have our roads blocked or trash piling up, so road workers and sanitation workers can still work. So, all those people can move about freely. Also, doctors. And nurses. And all the other people who staff a hospital. And plumbers and construction workers, in case someone’s water main breaks and they are about to be flooded out. And they all have to be able to drive to work, so gas stations and auto repair shops need to be open. Gun shops and churches—better leave those alone, because that might cost us votes to shut down. And no way are we telling people their pets aren’t important, so pet stores and veterinarian services are okay. And all these places; hospitals, fire stations, pet stores, groceries, etcetera, need supplies, so truckers and delivery services, that’s okay too….”
Another big problem with trying lockdowns is human nature. Humans are a gregarious species. The cruelest thing we can think to do to someone is to put them in “solitary confinement.” When we want to punish murders, child molesters and rapists, we simply put them in a place and tell them they can never come out. Humans pay large sums of their hard-earned money to be in crowds; at concerts, sporting events and religious ceremonies. We don’t tolerate not being able to do these things very well. Humans need human touch.
Another fundamental part of human nature is the difference between our public behavior and our private behavior. When we are in public, we say and do things a certain way, and when we are in private it’s often a completely different story. In public, people talk about the need for viral control measures and wear masks and social distance, but we don’t do the latter things in our homes, feeling it is unnecessary. Then the problem becomes how people start defining private versus public spaces. Hawaii has a problem because the resident population there sees social gatherings, even at work or involving multiple households, as private spaces. Colleges have a problem because people tend to see their fraternity or sorority and its activities as a private space, and so on.
What should we do instead of the lockdowns we have been doing? Because, couldn’t it happen that a restriction on people’s movements is necessary from a public health standpoint?
Yes, that is a possibility. First, of course, other measures should be tried. These would include things such as social distancing, limiting occupancy inside buildings, wearing the dreaded masks, washing hands, and plastic barriers.
Before giving everyone chemotherapy, that is, locking everyone down, the money and energy should also be committed to helping the most vulnerable. Extra effort should be put into protecting our nursing home residents and elderly population in the event of a virus like COVID-19, because, whereas most younger people will have no symptoms or mild ones, the elderly are different. These measures might include enhanced staffing and precautions at nursing homes, paid for by the government (still cheaper than giving millions of people 600 dollars a week and paying 80% of most business’s payrolls, which, if your unaware, the US government did do.) It might mean setting up enhanced video visitation opportunities for these residents and their families rather than face-to-face visits. For elders in the community, they could stay at home and have medical and food supplies delivered in a non-contact way.
And if a lockdown is necessary? Then it needs to be done geographically and totally. That is, let’s say a town somehow becomes a viral hotspot. The transportation in and out of that town would then be completely closed off. No one out, no one in. Arrangements would be made to drop off supplies in special areas, that would then be entered later by residents working in local stores to pick up. If the area is too small to have a pharmacy, plumber, hospital or grocery store, arrangements would be made ahead of time to either have someone voluntarily enter the quarantine zone and stay there until the all clear, or establish “field hospitals” or an“emergency plumbing resource,” directly fed into by the quarantine area and contiguous to it, with the personnel there, if necessary, becoming part of the quarantine.
Sounds a little grim, but within the zone, everything and anything could potentially stay open. People could still shop, and party and go to school. If we are talking about something really serious, like Ebola, then of course they might not wish to do that. However, these areas would only need to stay quarantined for 8-12 weeks, as this is the natural history of a typical viral infestation, and herd immunity (which does not have to be at any magical 70%, FYI to be effective) can have its effects much more readily in a small area.
Bottom line: using rationale, effective virus control measures that are targeted to the type of infection and vulnerable populations save both lives and our way of life.