Science is good. I never thought I would ever have to defend science. We all took it. We had to. Some people excelled at it. You may have thought that all the really smart kids ended up at Facebook (FB) or Amazon (AMZN) .
Some of them went forward and studied parts of science for years. Which brings me to Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech, and Kimberly Prather, a professor as University of California, San Diego, who specialize in aerosol impact on the chemistry of the environment.
In the old days these would be people whom we would listen to when it comes to an airborne illness like Covid-19. But these days I feel that wonderful people like these two geniuses are viewed with disdain. I wouldn't know them if my own Dr. Jon Lapook, who is also the chief medical correspondent for CBS, hadn't told me about them.
I have listened to them talk about the transmission of Covid-19 and they are so commonsensical that you have to think the President of the United States would have spent some time with them to learn about this disease before he hit the stump. What would we have heard?
He would have heard the word aerosol. He would have heard it because their whole adult lives revolve around studying how aerosol works and aerosol is how Covid is transmitted. Outside aerosol disperses. Inside though, it's like cigarette smoke. As Dr. Prather put it in relation to Covid: "The distance from a smoker at which one smells cigarette smoke indicates the distance in those surroundings at which one could inhale infectious aerosols. In an enclosed room with asymptomatic individuals, infectious aerosol concentrations can increase over time." Both docs agree that aerosols, like cigarette smoke, can accumulate and remain infectious for hours and be easily inhaled deep into the lungs.
The only thing that can stop the process? Both professors of aerosol agree: masks.
Now lets go back to the President of the United States. He is not a fan of masks and he made fun of Vice President Biden for wearing a big one. But it is precisely the kind of mask that can defeat the aerosol build up, like the one that sickened 53 people in a choir in Washington State all from one person who had had cold like symptoms, apparently a lot like the ones the president is experiencing.
He's been spreading and getting aerosol particles for who knows how many days because of his reluctance to wear a mask and the people around him who, taking their cue from the president, don't wear them either. They are, alas, the choir.
It gets worse. Even after all of these months, people do not seem to realize that the darned thing germinates without you knowing it. We don't know how long it takes between when it enters your body and when you can give it to others but the belief is that after 24 hours of being tested negative you can develop a viral load that can make you contagious. That means you can test negative for it say at 9 a.m. Saturday, and then be contagious enough on Sunday morning at 9 to give it to many other people, through aerosol spread, in the locker room, say, of the Tennessee Titans. But, because of the pernicious nature of the darned thing, those players may not find that they have it for about eight days. That means you test every day and no one's all clear for that period and its highly usual to find out that on the fifth day you have developed the disease. This is important because anyone who says they test negative the first time is not out the woods. My five day pick is not arbitrary. There's a big drop in those who just got it from five to eight days and a further drop from eight to 10, and then almost nothing from 10 to 14. Why does this Tennessee Titans real life analogy matter to the White House mess? Because all of these negative tests you are hearing about are no different than the negative tests some of the Titans experienced on the Monday after the game. They mean very little as we have heard of new positives all week, including two today. I believed a lot of this list of people who tested negatively around the president are going to go positive over the next five days because of the aerosol factor that could have been stopped by masks.
To go full circle, an unyielding disdain for scientists permeates this administration. It's pretty much an open secret. But if you listen to the pointy heads, the professors, literally, of aerosol, the nation wouldn't be in this fix. Oh, and by the way, it isn't the president, it's bigger than the office, it's the nation itself.