Shopping scares me, even though stores are doing their best to make it safe

Buy-Low Foods is doing its best to make shopping safe, but narrow aisles make physical distancing a challenge. (© Richard McGuire Photo)

As my fridge and kitchen cupboards got emptier and emptier in recent days, I realized I would have to make another dreaded trip to the grocery store.

I’ve been trying to limit my grocery shopping to once every two weeks to avoid unnecessary exposure to other people. But I only managed to hold out for 11 days. My eggs, bread and other items were all gone. The remaining small amount of milk in my jug was starting to smell.

I’ve also been holding out on a few other items I’ve needed or wanted. Prescriptions down to the last pills. A needed hardware item. And, since I don’t intend to give up all alcohol until a vaccine is available, a trip to the liquor store.

Shopping scares me. I try to go in as quickly as I can, armed with a plan, knowing exactly what I need to get. I wear a face covering, which offers limited protection to myself and others. I’m careful about what I touch and the bandana reminds me not to touch my face. Continue reading “Shopping scares me, even though stores are doing their best to make it safe”

Immunity could help society recover, but questions are many, and we’re not there yet

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

With a Covid-19 vaccine likely still many months away, there is debate about whether people who have had the illness and recovered have immunity and can escape the isolation the rest of us face.

In the United Kingdom these days, some are proposing that “immunity passports” could be provided to people who are found by testing to have the antibodies in their blood that might prevent them from getting reinfected and spreading the disease.

It’s an attractive idea on the surface. Many of the people infected are healthcare workers and they are urgently needed back at work. Would they need the same level of protection if they’ve already had the virus? Some see it as a way to restore the economy with recovered workers, even as most of the rest of the population remains in isolation.

But there are still too many unanswered questions about the nature of the immune response to Covid-19. And there are dozens of logistical questions. Continue reading “Immunity could help society recover, but questions are many, and we’re not there yet”

Osoyoos Times, Oliver Chronicle suspend print editions

The Osoyoos Times and Oliver Chronicle announced Thursday that they are suspending their print editions starting next week. They will continue publishing their online editions. (Photo: Richard McGuire for the Osoyoos Times)

Sadly, the Osoyoos Times and Oliver Chronicle both announced Thursday that they are suspending their print editions, though they will continue to publish online.

To my knowledge, next week will be the first time since the Osoyoos Times was started by Stan Stodola in early 1947 that the Times has not published a paper edition.

The decline of community newspapers began long before Covid-19, but no doubt the impact of the pandemic on local businesses has badly hurt the advertising revenue these papers need to survive. Continue reading “Osoyoos Times, Oliver Chronicle suspend print editions”

UPDATE: There’s growing push-back against message that public should not wear masks

OsoyoosPersists.ca Editor Richard McGuire ties a bandana over his nose and mouth when it’s necessary to enter a store. This provides limited protection to himself and others and should only be done in conjunction with physical distancing and hand washing. Perhaps more effective, it warns people not to enter his personal space. (© Richard McGuire Photo)

There’s a growing international movement advocating the use of homemade face masks in the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

As pointed out in a story last week about masks on OsoyoosPersists.ca, the official line from such respected organizations as the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) is that the general public should not wear masks unless they are infected or are caring for someone with the virus.

But a report yesterday (March 31) in the Washington Post suggests the CDC may be reconsidering this advice. Other countries, such as the Czech Republic, have rapidly switched from almost no public wearing of masks to generalized public use. Continue reading “UPDATE: There’s growing push-back against message that public should not wear masks”

Spread by people without symptoms is much worse than first thought

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (orange)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (green) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML

When the history of this coronavirus pandemic is written, the initial failure by health authorities to understand the danger of transmission by people not showing symptoms will be seen as a major factor in its spread.

The information about “asymptomatic” carriers — those spreading the virus without showing symptoms — remains a work in progress and estimates of numbers are all over the map.

Enough is now known to underscore the message that strict social distancing is still very necessary, even when people aren’t showing symptoms.

China has been warning about asymptomatic transmission since January, but there was initial resistance to this idea by Western health authorities. Continue reading “Spread by people without symptoms is much worse than first thought”

We’re in this for the longer haul

SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19. (U.S. National Institutes of Health)

The big question for most people is how long are we going to have to isolate and how long will this pandemic last.

And, what’s coming next?

No one — not even health experts and epidemiologists — can tell you for sure. But it is possible to get an idea by looking at epidemiological information about the virus and looking at the experience in other countries that got hit by the virus first.

Here’s the difficult reality: we won’t be free from the risk of the virus until a sufficient number of people acquire immunity. And that will only happen when either a vaccine is developed or enough people have had Covid-19 and recovered. Continue reading “We’re in this for the longer haul”

OsoyoosPersists.ca, website on surviving the pandemic in our community, officially launches

Richard McGuire

A new website, OsoyoosPersists.ca, has launched to provide the Osoyoos, B.C. community and area with localized information about the Covid-19 pandemic.

The non-commercial site is the project of Richard McGuire, a semi-retired journalist and photographer living in Osoyoos.

The site, which “soft-launched” on Friday, March 20, will provide researched, curated and fact-checked information with a focus on this community. Continue reading “OsoyoosPersists.ca, website on surviving the pandemic in our community, officially launches”