Kevin Cody

Dr. Pissed Off: Plague precautions 101

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Providence Little Company of Mary and Torrance Memorial hospital admissions for COVID-19 patients. Chart by Bernard Wong (

by Dr. Pissed Off

People are idiots. 

That is why, at the risk of being annoying and repetitive, I am reviewing how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. 

Social distance: There is a lot of discussion regarding aerosol, large droplets and surface transmission of SARS-COV-2. The greatest risk is due to airborne droplets containing live virus.  The droplets are formed in the body of the infected individual (whether or not they are sick, healthy, fit, unfit, attractive, less attractive, mean, nice, religious, atheist, tall, short, foreign, domestic, adult, child, young, or less young). The droplets are put into the air by the infected individual breathing, talking, coughing, sneezing, laughing, yelling, whispering, and singing. So distance from the actual or potential source should seem obvious. 

Is this enough? No.

Wearing a face shield or goggles:  This is not a substitute for a mask. Shields prevent viral laden droplets from falling on the moist membranes of the eyes and maybe even stops the wearer from putting his/her fingers, which may have viral droplets, into the eyes, nose or mouth. Wear a well-fitting mask that conforms to your face so that the air you breath in must come through, not around, the mask. Masks often come folded flat in packaging, which creases the malleable nose bridge. The nose bridge needs to be bent to conform to the contours of the nose not left tented, allowing air passage around the mask material. 

Some masks come with vents or one-way valves. Do not use these. Valves fail on the intake and when you exhale, they allow virus laden droplets to exit. Yes, I know that these masks look cool, but they endanger all the rest of us and mark the wearer as ill-informed, at best.  

Oh yeah, cover your nose as well as your mouth. Not covering your nose allows you to breathe in unfiltered, virus laden air as well as to breath out unfiltered virus laden air.  Do not tell me that you are a mouth breather and that is why you do not cover your nose. 

If you are frequenting a business establishment where policies outlined above are not enforced, notify the management and find another place to spend your money.

Do not gather indoors with anyone outside of your immediate household, with or without masks.  If you must gather with outsiders do it outside with masks and distance. If you drive with outsiders do it with masks and the windows open and say a little prayer.

Okay, you ask. Now that I know how to protect myself how do I protect others? Let us define others — everyone else. Protect everyone like you protect yourself. Everyone means everyone, without exception. Sounds Biblical I know.

The measures outlined above will change as we continue to gain knowledge of the virus and get medications and vaccines that will help us in the fight. This pandemic is not going away anytime soon. Neither I nor anyone else knows what the timeline will be. ER

Source: Los Angeles County Department of Health. Tables by Bernard Wong (


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