Monday, July 8, 2024

Ethics of Risk Taking

If you were having a lot of sex with various people -- or even if you just had a quickie with one person without any protection, then having unprotected sex with the next person becomes a moral issue. 

Maybe it's just the case for those of use who came to age when AIDS was finally getting some public health recognition. I wonder how much that concern has dropped. Right now it's still illegal to have unprotected sex if you know you're HIV+, but ethically, having prior unprotected sex means getting tested before having unprotected sex again. Just in case. Because you can never know if you've picked up something along the way -- not just the big one, but any number of sexually transmitted infections. 

Back in the early 90s, I briefly dated a guy who wouldn't wear a condom because he wasn't Homosexual, Hemopheliac, or Haitian. I made him get tested. He thought I was being overly cautious, but he got tested anyway. Wanting sex is a great motivator for action! 

But I -- and the bulk of my friends at the time -- thought of him as kind of dirty - and not in a hot way. He was the kind of guy who didn't care about spreading diseases around. That's so gross.  

At the time, those gross kinds of guys would say things like, "You can still get pregnant or an STI with a condom, so why bother ever wearing one!" And it was so stupidly, stupidly obvious they were playing us, trying to con us into having anything to do with them despite potentially being the carrier of a disease. 

In March 2024, during a lull between waves of infections, over 5,000 people died of Covid in just that month. And those are just recorded deaths.

What you can do? 

You could ask everyone in the grocery store or at work about where they've been and how many people they've been in contact with unmasked to do a risk assessment, or you could just wear an N95 and encourage others to do so too. If I have people over, my only question is, How many people have you been around without a mask on in the last two weeks, and how many have the people you live with been around. If it's even one then I keep my mask on, and we hang out outside. Contact with just one person, both unmasked, is enough to get a virus, and it's not worth the risk to my brain and body! Some people are surprised to know that, for the people I hang out with, the answer is almost always zero unmasked contacts. Beyond the lowball of 5,000 deaths/month, a good 10-20% are being left disabled for months, years, or life. I don't have that kind of time, and I don't want my kids to have to take their time to take care of me.  

The reality is that it IS possible to get Covid in a mask, especially if you're the only one wearing an N95 in a crowded room of non-maskers, but the reduction in risk is dramatic. Less so with a surgical mask, but it's still reducing the risk. That's the kind of risk assessment I do. Others might back away from someone obviously ill, or maybe even back away from someone in a mask, a symbol of illness, which is fascinating.

I get that taking a risk can be fun sometimes. I think there are some people who liked the sexual thrill of gambling with their life and felt like adding any element of concern with safety to their sex life was dampening all the fun. But where's the thrill of doing groceries or going to work unmasked?? I mean, I get being here for a good time, not a long time, but how much of a good time is it to be in a hospital for tests or treatment (or work) unmasked?? Parachute out of a plane to get the thrill of tempting death; don't take unnecessary risks in public health, public transit, and education where it affects others. 

Just imagine if it were illegal to knowingly have Covid and go out in public without a mask on. People are absolutely doing that right now. They're even sharing it on social media! Our society hasn't cultivate the feeling that it's wrong. In fact we've undone all previous efforts that successfully made us wary of spreading disease.

But Sondra really, really wanted to meet her favourite authors!!! Shouldn't that count for anything??

Sondra replied that she followed CDC directions, that it's okay to go out once you're 48 hours without a fever, and her doctor said it's fine if she doesn't have symptoms. However, the CDC actually recommends going back to regular activities after 24 hours -- we've got to keep working, people!! -- BUT they also say, "take added precaution over the next 5 days" with cleaner air, masks, distancing, and or testing. "Keep in mind that you may still be able to spread the virus that made you sick, even if you are feeling better." They're really big on fever even though lots of people don't have that specific symptom, and they completely overlook that over 50% of transmission is from someone without any symptoms!! Again, it's like when someone's HIV+. They can go literally years without symptoms while spreading it, so we have to be cautious. 

And BOY was that info hard to find! On the CDC site, Bird Flu has a link to itself at the top of the page, but you'll find Covid nestled way down between Correctional Health and Coxiella Burnetii Infection. 

Lisa was legitimately upset because she's high risk and Sondra walked right up to her, indoors, to talk inches from her face. Sondra didn't apologize to her favourite author or seem even remotely remorseful because she was FOLLOWING THE RULES! 

Okay. 1. She wasn't, but nobody knows the current rules because they often don't make sense and change all the time and the comms are disastrous. She noted that she felt self-conscious about being Covid positive, but then she felt reassured by her perception of the rules as presented to her. But 2. IF you find out you may have seriously harmed someone, don't point at the rules -- that's what Eichmann did in his trial; don't be like flippin' Adolph Eichmann!! -- instead, apologize remorsefully to the person potentially harmed and try to make amends. Show people that you've got a conscience. We have to get much better at that.  

Before someone says of the author, "If she's so high risk then she shouldn't have been at a conference or ever leave her home in the first place," keep in mind that's what was said before the disabled were rounded up and exterminated. 

Can we please stop acting like Nazis???

Ethics are right out the window for this round of virus.

It'll likely never be illegal to knowingly spread Covid. But, despite people getting on my case for it, it IS unethical. Knowingly being Covid + and going in public without a mask isn't significantly different than knowingly being HIV+ and having unprotected sex now that being HIV+ isn't quite the death sentence it once was. Instead, many just don't test so they can't know, and they sneak around their own conscience and civic responsibility that way. One big difference between the two viruses is that we're still scared of AIDS and not at all scared of SARS-CoV-2. The deaths aren't as concentrated in places to make them as shocking -- they're not even getting media coverage anymore, and the disabilities aren't as public as images of iron lungs for polio victims. People quietly languish at home and are lucky if they have anyone's help. Maybe worse, people are walking around, well enough to move about, but confused about what's going on in this meeting or which is the right pedal for the brakes. Like HIV and RABIES, Covid fuses your neurons together in clumps, blocking transmission of signals. IT VISIBLY FUCKS WITH YOUR BRAIN. 

And, like being HIV+, sometimes you have very minor acute symptoms so you often don't know you're carrying and spreading something if you're not testing after contact. How many people test after going to a concert before seeing loved ones?? Virtually nobody. So Covid continues to spread more and more and more. 

Except places like the White House and Davos and other areas largely inhabited by the elites who demand clean air, upper room UV, and ongoing testing so they don't have to wear masks. The fact that they're taking precautions but telling the public not to worry should send shivers up your spine. They need us to keep working and shopping until we literally drop dead. 

And it could all be stopped if we just wear N95s whenever we're in public to protect ourselves, to show we care about the wellbeing of others, to show we have a conscious, and to model a very simple safety behaviour up there with wearing a seatbelt. It's not a belief system being propagated here, it's science and data. Well-fitting N95s significantly reduce the risk of transmission. We can get used to wearing them regularly. It happens in other cultures, and it can happen here too. Keep your friends and family alive with an N95. 

ETA some news from July 9, 2024:

1 comment:

Marie Snyder said...

I might go that route if I have to work indoors again. With cases high and protections low, it means any protection used will have to be beefed up.