A Side Benefit of Reasonable Anti-COVID Precautions

A few weeks ago, some asshole with a blog discussed how masking at meetings can prevent disease transmission:

I also was at an in-person conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, and by the last couple of hours or so on Wednesday, my symptoms had started–which I only realized in retrospect. But because I wear an N95 mask in these situations, I mostly likely didn’t infect anyone.

The point isn’t that I’m an awesome person, but that, if we all did this routinely, we wouldn’t be making other people sick nearly as often–and no, this wasn’t COVID, but it wasn’t a particularly enjoyable week either.

I recently looked back at some sick leave requests and realized that cold was the first cold I have had since February 2019. Looking back, I was getting two to four colds from about mid-October through mid-March, with one or two being miserable. I didn’t miss much work, but I likely experienced close to a month of cold symptoms and recovery every year (especially if there was an off-season cold). I don’t have any concerns about ‘long cold virus’, but it’s just a miserable thing we tolerated–and we can do something about it! You don’t have to feel physically subpar for weeks.

This is largely due to remote work: I’m no longer sitting in close proximity to twenty or so people, with a couple of them sneezing and coughing non-stop (one former colleague was given the moniker ‘Coughy McWheezy’). Masking helps too, especially when I’m commuting on mass transit, though, again, remote work obviously limits the chance of infection by reducing the number of trips I take. If you’re wondering why I didn’t get sick in Fall 2019-Winter 2020, I took some simple steps, such as wearing a KN95 at my desk when people were coughing*, along with only sitting in seats on the Metro (otherwise standing) where someone couldn’t sit directly behind me and cough on me. And it worked! (I’m sure dumb luck played a role too). In fact I remember telling someone in early January 2020, “I don’t want to jinx it, but I’ve had a good cold-flu season so far.”

Narrator: the Mad Biologist definitely jinxed it.

Again, the issue isn’t like long COVID, where there is a small risk of long-term disability. But we can do things to limit our collective misery in the fall and winter.

*No, December in D.C. isn’t ‘allergy season’–you have a fucking cold.

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1 Response to A Side Benefit of Reasonable Anti-COVID Precautions

  1. Ha! I’m surprised. I think you are underestimating long Covid.

    My reading of the numbers is that people in the 35-49 age group who catch covid and recover have the disease burden (i.e. the health characteristics) of folks in the 65-79 age bracket. That means it makes you 30 years older. Period. Whether or not you in particular have symptoms/problems, you just got 30 years older.

    You really don’t want to catch covid. Period. Which you already knew, of course.

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