What can each of us do to fight this damn virus? How will you live your life to be sure you don’t get infected and possibly die? The purpose of this post is to describe how Patti and I are thinking about how we will live UNTIL VACCINE. This article and its embedded videos and links had a big impact on me. Read and watch.
== My daily self-talk: “It BADLY wants to kill me.” ==
Plan for the worst case. I believe in planning that assumes the worst case possible. That’s the whole focus of Nest Egg Care. You assume the worst will happen – the worst sequence of financial returns ever. You set your spending rate and investment strategy accordingly. You have an action plan to avoid the WORST – you know you won’t run out of money in your lifetime. Right now, the WORST is this virus that can get inside of me, run wild and kill me.
It’s an efficient and effective killer. It’s efficient because no one is immune, and none of us can stop it. It runs wild in the beginning, easily finding victims. It only slows down when it gets harder and harder to find a new victim. That point of greatest difficulty comes when about 65% are immune – either because they’ve gained immunity by recovering from a prior attack or because they’ve been vaccinated.
It’s most effective on the oldest and weakest. The current data for our county shows that for people roughly my age, it kills more than 25% that it infects. While most all these folks were residents of nursing homes, that rate also applies to folks my age who live independently, like Patti and I do.
I’d be nuts to assume that 25% doesn’t apply to me. I’d like to think many, many more have already had it, meaning that 25% rate is far, far too high. I’d like to think I’m in much better health than those it’s attacked and killed. But I have NO data to tell me that either of those might be true.
I also should assume it will be a more effective killer next fall and winter. Even though I always get a flu shot, I seem to always get the seasonal flu and it knocks me down. Weakens me. If it infects me ON TOP OF the normal seasonal flu, I very likely could be doomed.
It’s an invisible killer. It wants to get inside me from invisible particles of spit or snot from a person it’s recently infected or a person who’s a carrier. The pre-sick folks can shed the virus for days before they know they are sick. The carriers – the ones who have it but don’t get sick – can shed virus for many days. We have no idea how many days. Both feel perfectly fine. They look fine. The virus says, “Please go about your normal life. Please get close to other people. And whatever you do, don’t wear a mask.”
When these folks speak or even breathe heavily, they spew out very small particles that contain the killer. If they cough or sneeze, it really flies out of them. I could directly breathe the particles. They could land on my face or clothes. When particles land on surfaces, the killer can live there for DAYS. Without thinking, I could touch my clothes or surfaces with the killer on them. Then without thinking I could touch my eyes, nose or mouth. And now I’m cooked. I could die in a couple of weeks.
It’s all around me: I think at least 3% of all people I see harbor the killer. Our county is a small sample size, but I think I’m being conservative with the data to say roughly 3% actively harbor the killer. Again, more data may tell a different story, but right now I should view that 3% of all people I see harbor the killer that’s looking for me.
The chance of being near the killer is high. If Patti and I are in a restaurant with 25 others, it’s more than 50% probable that at least one harbors the killer. My barber probably sees close to 50 customers a day – he’s a very busy guy: it’s almost 80% probable that he’s cut the hair of at least one killer. On a plane with 150 passengers, it’s 99% probable that at least one harbors the killer. One sneeze, one cough, one small invisible cloud of spit and snot and . . .
The risk of bumping into IT decreases when less of IT is in the population. Over time less of it will be in the population. But even if the rate IT is in the population is 0.5%, would I want to be in a group of 25 with an 11% chance of IT being there? NO.
== What are our rules to keep alive ==
Follow the general rules: wash your hands; don’t touch your face; get no closer than six feet from anyone; wear a facemask: it helps others.
House and car: Cocoon and mini-cocoon. NO ONE other than Patti and I get inside. Continue to pay Cindy not to come to clean. We can live with dust balls and actually clean up a bit ourselves. We can forego the routine workers who normally come inside once or twice a year: the AC and furnace checks can wait.
Gear for outside: Never leave house without four things: face mask, gloves, wipes in a plastic snack bag, and pocket-sized hand sanitizer. Keep duplicates in the cars at all times.
Car rules: wipe door handles on entering if the car has been outside of our garage. Limit the number of times we have to touch a nozzle at a filling station. Drive very little. Use our electric car as much as possible.
Rules for exercise: Long walks: always have the mask on our ears; put it on if we get within 20 feet of anybody else. I’d hope to heck that they do the same. Otherwise, we don’t have the mask over mouth and nose. Never go to the JCC for our usual exercise classes. Too much heavy breathing and invisible clouds in the room. They’re streaming the classes live now. Good move.
Shopping rules. NO shopping in stores other than the grocery. Limit that to once every other week. Pick less popular times to shop. We have not yet arranged on-line shopping for groceries and may try that.
ALWAYS wear mask when in a store. Strictly adhere to the distance rules. Stay at least six feet from everyone. Stay ten feet if someone is facing us and talking. I’ll do the same for them if I am talking.
It’s safer if Patti shops. The killer seems to prey on men more than women. I’m not as detailed at following the routines to keep totally safe.
Do not touch any surface – door handles and elevator buttons in particular – without disinfectant wipe and/or wearing gloves. Think of every surface as covered with a thin layer of snot. Don’t let that snot get in my mouth, nose, or eyes. We practice this at home so that it will become second nature when we’re out.
NEVER shop at a store where employees or other customers do not have on a mask. (Mandatory now, but may not always be.) If an employee fails to wear a mask UNTIL VACCINE, tell the store management that they have lost our business for a very long time. (I don’t think I’ll say, “For as long as we’re alive.” He or she may think, “Heck, that’s likely only a couple of months from now.”)
Always wipe down everything that enters the cocoon before it’s put away.
Restaurants. We won’t eat out UNTIL VACCINE. Too dangerous. At our age, you’d have to be nuts to eat in one. We will only do carryout and follow the rules when we pick up our food.
The future economics for restaurants and staff are horrible. I now tip $20 for all carryout orders. We do that about twice/week. This week I am starting to add $20 to the bill for the restaurants. That’s $20 for the staff and $20 for the restaurant. Less than $400/month.
Movie theaters, concerts, plays, sporting events. Totally off limits. We’ve donated this year’s subscription tickets.
Travel. NEVER fly on a plane UNTIL VACCINE. Too many people, too close. We cancelled our annual trip to England. We will cancel a trip to Tuscany planned for the fall. We don’t want to stay overnight anywhere. Something will have to be different for me to feel safe staying in a motel, hotel, or bed and breakfast. We don’t take cruises, but, as Dr. Fauci said, “Just don’t get on a cruise ship.”
Hair. The barber is high risk. I think I will just let my hair grow. I may go if I am the first customer of the day and the cleaning routine is clear. Or, maybe Patti cuts it; she used to cut it 50 years ago. It looked like hell.
Dental and health. Our dentist sent a detailed description of what they will do to protect customers and staff. I dread the thought of someone’s hands in my mouth. Teeth cleaning can just wait UNTIL VACCINE. I have one scheduled physician visit in June, and he does not need to touch me for the visit. I hope telemedicine will work. A toenail is growing weirdly on one toe. I probably should see a podiatrist. It’s uncomfortable but not restricting me. I’ll try to wait as long as possible. Maybe Patti will have to become a toenail surgeon.
Conclusion: Patti and I are planning on the WORST case. The virus badly wants to attack us and the data to date tell me it has a good chance of killing folks our age if we let it in. Some of our ideas to KEEP IT OUT may sound crazy, but I think they give us the best chance of being alive UNTIL VACCINE. Get exercise; eat right; stay healthy; be kind and hang in there so you can get back to ENJOY MORE. NOW. After the vaccine.