Some thoughts on mitigation of the COVID-19 virus:
More than 100 years ago, ultraviolet lamps were being developed for medical use because of the lights ability to kill viruses and bacteria. The discovery is credited to Niels Ryberg Finsen, a Danish physician. Over 55 years ago, I had a neighbor who was quite literally a rocket scientist at Rocketdyne in the North East San Fernando Valley. He had decided to build a swimming pool in his backyard. Instead of using chemicals to kill bacteria and viruses, he designed and built a device with clear glass tubes where the pool water would be exposed to intense ultraviolet light. His pool was always clear, healthy, and chemical-free.
There are already companies that manufacture ultraviolet light products for use in buildings and hospitals. There are portable room air purifiers that take advantage of both hepa filters and ultraviolet light. A simple device that amounts to little more than a squirrel cage fan blowing air over a ultraviolet source, installed in places where we closely gather – such as restaurants, and public transportation – properly designed and installed, could provide great mitigation in the spread of the virus. There are even lower power bulbs in a restricted bandwidth that provide no harm to humans who are being directly exposed as it kills bacteria and viruses. The technology to create safe spaces cheaply already exists. We must start using it. Then we can feel much better about opening the economy.
In dealing with the COVID-19 problem, we need to keep in mind human nature. Imagine two restaurants. One follows all the guidelines, masks, plexiglass barriers, social distancing, frequently cleaning etc. The other does the same but advertises that all air circulated in the restaurant has been filtered and made virus free because of their innovative use of ultraviolet light. Where would you prefer to go for dinner?
Many complain that everyone does not wear a proper mask. We are told to use some derivation of a surgical mask that prevents the wearer from spreading the disease. Medical workers get the N95 mask which protects the wearer from being exposed to the disease. If we want effective mitigation through mask usage, ask yourself which type of mask you would prefer wearing. One that restricts your spreading of the disease to others or wearing a mask that protects you from your disease-ridden friends and neighbors. Come on, who would not want the protective apparel? If we could not contract the disease when going about our business, the crisis would be over in no time.
On testing: The methodology they are using to justify the administration of a test does nothing to inform us about the extent it has infected our society. It is useful to attack hot spots and tracking the potentially infected, but does nothing to inform us of the disease’s extent and the kind of strategy we need to engage in to put on a effective fight. Just look at the continuous failures in the prediction models.
As soon as possible, we need to do truly random testing of statistically significant numbers. It seems clear at this time we will discover that as a percentage many are infected, few die and most are unaware that they even have contracted the disease.
(Danger, do not do this!) When I was young, parents often had infection parties where parents would intentionally expose their children to the chicken pox, measles, and mumps, so their children could heal easily and develop immunity. (Do not ever do it!) Sometimes nature suffers fools and finds a way.