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Daily Journal
     May 19, 2020      #66-140 KDJ

Dennis Marek: The craziness of the pandemic 

By Dennis Marek

We have been locked down for about two months now, and some of the most bizarre happenings are occurring with little commotion. Never has there been a time when the personal views about the president were further apart. He has provided us with some good humor although he wouldn’t probably consider it humor, but rather treason. Some of his staunchest supports have taken the law in their own hands, defying stay at home orders and protests against governors who believe that their state is not ready to open.

There is the right versus left philosophy of whether the economy is more important than the lives of citizens. And that is a valid argument. Should we sacrifice perhaps 200,000 lives in order for our economy to stop its slip and get the unemployed millions back to work? I guess, since we are all going to die at some point, quality survival may require risks of many deaths. I have to laugh, however, how the states are now put in the position of making these decisions. If the pandemic is not much worse than the flu, as so many right-wingers profess, the president is right. But if it becomes even worse, then he can blame the states for their judgments about closure or opening. That is a no lose position in many ways, even though he is the one leader who blew it in the first place.

One of my favorite political cartoons has an NRA protestor of the shutdowns, marching on the Capitol, armed with his AR-15, with the quote. “Forget Government mandated lockdown! Nobody’s gonna push something down my throat.” In the next panel he is in a hospital bed with a nurse inserting the tube of a ventilator down that very throat.

Then there are the requirements of the shutdown. I wear a mask and gloves when I do go out. I wash my hands to the point they are wrinkled and for the first time in my life I use hand cream on a daily basis. I can do all that. I can stay 6 feet away. I can carefully get takeout from my favorite restaurant, use a glove when I put gas in my car, and use the wipes on the grocery carts before I start to shop. BUT I CAN’T STOP TOUCHING MY FACE.

So I decided to read about face touching when I couldn’t stop. As I was driving one day on an interstate, I decided that I would see if I could go 10 miles without touching any part of my head. It was insanely difficult. One study found that on the average, people touch their faces 23 times an hour! Apparently fetuses touch their faces in utero, so we learned this before we were even born. Some say that the touching serves as some sort of regulation of our emotions and how we react to situations we are facing. I think I must just itch a lot.

Often times your nose doesn’t feel just right. My ears itches with my hearing aids. Eyes burn or have sleep in the edges. Thus the eye rubbing. Each time we touch or itch a spot we are given immediate relief. So it is an action with an immediate reward. Who doesn’t like that?

We now pretty well know that the virus, COVID-19, enters a body through the respiratory tract. That would be the nose and mouth. This virus spreads through person-to-person contact. With a sneeze or cough, droplets are ejected and we breathe some in. So we stay the 6 feet apart. But the second way is through touch. Thus the eye rubbing can lead to contamination. If these viruses can live on a wet surface as the eye, it is only a matter of time when the eye rubber touches his mouth or nose. Done!

Touching the gas pump, the door handle, or even getting change from a clerk can transfer the virus. Up to that point, so what? Then you touch your face. These viruses can apparently attach to mucosal surfaces and survive for a substantial period of time. Washing the hands, using Purell, or other disinfectants will remove the virus for the time being. But the constant contact by our hands can lead to our demise. But only if it goes to the face and subsequently into the mouth or nose.

The good news for me is that the ears do not have a point of entry for the virus and don’t have the same virus-friendly cells that the eyes and nose do.

There is more good news. If you are home and have washed and sanitized, according to the doctors, you can touch away, scratch that ear, rub that eye, and even (ugh) pick that nose. But remember. Just like the alcoholic cannot take just one drink, if you get too comfortable with that touching, won’t you be more likely to touch your face when you are out and about?

Face masks will help as they cover the vital intake parts of the face. And remember something many forget, the face mask does not really protect you unless you have one of those really fancy ones, but it protects others from you because your droplets aren’t going airborne. So, the guy who is too proud or too important to wear a face mask is putting you in danger, not himself. Seems a bit selfish doesn’t it?

More than you ever wanted to hear about face touching? Probably, but we need leaders who lead by example. Ray Kroc once was quoted saying “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standard they set for themselves.” Henry Ford said “Don’t find fault. Find the remedy.” One more quote I like, “You don’t have power at all if you don’t exercise consistent power.” Kwai Kibaki.

Then we have another recent quote from a president, “I don’t take responsibility, not at all. I did everything right.” Follow that up with this from Simon Sinek, “Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation.” Thanks to an editorial in the Holland Sentinel for the various quotes.

So stay safe, stay apart, don’t believe all you hear from any source, think, and don’t touch that face.

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