So, What Does "Safe" Mean, Anyway? - Granite Grok

So, What Does “Safe” Mean, Anyway?

Virus Mask

We’ve heard a lot of talk about masks, social separation, constant washing of hands, etc. We’ve been told that these extra “protective measures” are needed “until it’s safe.”

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We hear about “flattening the curve.” That “the curve” is the number of people who become infected with COVID-19. Then we learn it is about making sure we don’t overwhelm our health care systems with COVID-19 patients. Then we hear that it’s about reducing the number of deaths from COVID-19.

As someone who tries to make decisions according to facts and not “polls” or “statistics,” I’d like to ask a few questions.

First, can I get a definition of the term “safe” when used in the context of the current COVID-19 “protective measures”? I think it’s only fair that New Hampshire residents have a definition of “safe” that is both testable and provable. Who were the NH virologists and epidemiologists who decided on the NH definition of “safe”?  Were any non-medical personnel on that panel? If “safe” is not a purely medical decision, why not? And who will determine when we have passed the indeterminate barrier of “safe”? What measurements will they use?

Statistics are, of course, useless. The COVID-19 virus does not obey statistics. Therefore, the use of statistics that do not include every resident in NH is not helpful.  Every resident of NH has not been tested for COVID-19.  Therefore it is not possible to know precisely how many NH residents have been infected. Without an accurate measure – not a “statistical sampling” but an absolute count – we do not know whether these “protective measures” are producing results. And without an hour-by-hour count of the number of infected NH residents (I’ll extend that to day-by-day if you wish), we will not know the actual progression of infections.

Then, I’d like to know the proven “science” behind these “protective measures.” Once again, statistics are not helpful here: they do not show whether the “protective measures” actually work. Part of the problem here is the changing nature of the anti-infection guidance that we have been receiving.

It is well known that the CDC’s guidance has changed considerably since the beginning of this pandemic. Some of the original guidance has been abandoned as new facts about COVID-19 have been “discovered.” This means that, as far as COVID-19, the science is not settled. Establishing “protective measures” that may not work or may make conditions worse should be avoided.

Moreover, the choice of which businesses would have to cease operations and which would be allowed to continue operating seem arbitrary. One would think that huge supermarkets and stores selling hardware (regardless of their claims of sanitation) would be less safe than businesses that depend on the absolute cleanliness of the premises, its equipment, and its staff (barbershops and salons).

It strikes me that congregating in supermarkets or state liquor stores is just as dangerous as gathering in a church or synagogue, perhaps more so. Congregants in churches and synagogues typically know each other and probably care about each other’s health while shoppers in a supermarket or liquor store don’t and probably wouldn’t.

I have many other questions and will continue to ask them. But for now, I think the residents of NH deserve a clear, precise, and unchanging definition of “safe” as well as a clear, precise, and testable means to determine “safe.” One would hate to think that our public servants took matters into their own hands and make some devastating decisions for the residents and business proprietors of NH without full information on the consequences of those decisions.