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Reblogged:Control Rituals vs. Actual Control

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There's a good article in the Atlantic that examines what it aptly calls hygiene theater, alluding to many of the the airport check-in rituals we are still performing nearly two decades after the atrocities of September 11, 2001.

The following passages include some of both the debunking and the cost analysis such useless (but visible!) practices as "deep cleaning" in settings where the risk of transmission via contaminated surfaces is quite small:

stop_spreading.jpg
Indeed. (Image by United Nations COVID-19 Response, via Unsplash, license.)
A good case study of how the coronavirus spreads, and does not spread, is the famous March outbreak in a mixed-use skyscraper in Seoul, South Korea. On one side of the 11th floor of the building, about half the members of a chatty call center got sick. But less than 1 percent of the remainder of the building contracted COVID-19, even though more than 1,000 workers and residents shared elevators and were surely touching the same buttons within minutes of one another. "The call-center case is a great example," says Donald Schaffner, a food-microbiology professor who studies disease contamination at Rutgers University. "You had clear airborne transmission with many, many opportunities for mass fomite transmission in the same place. But we just didn't see it." Schaffner told me, "In the entire peer-reviewed COVID-19 literature, I've found maybe one truly plausible report, in Singapore, of fomite transmission. And even there, it is not a slam-dunk case." [link omitted]
And, a bit later:
New York City's decision to spend lavishly on power scrubbing its subways shows how absurd hygiene theater can be, in practice. As the city's transit authority considers reduced service and layoffs to offset declines in ticket revenue, it is on pace to spend more than $100 million this year on new cleaning practices and disinfectants. Money that could be spent on distributing masks, or on PSA campaigns about distancing, or actual subway service, is being poured into antiseptic experiments that might be entirely unnecessary. Worst of all, these cleaning sessions shut down trains for hours in the early morning, hurting countless late-night workers and early-morning commuters.

As long as people wear masks and don't lick one another, New York's subway-germ panic seems irrational. In Japan, ridership has returned to normal, and outbreaks traced to its famously crowded public transit system have been so scarce that the Japanese virologist Hitoshi Oshitani concluded, in an email to The Atlantic, that "transmission on the train is not common." Like airline travelers forced to wait forever in line so that septuagenarians can get a patdown for underwear bombs, New Yorkers are being inconvenienced in the interest of eliminating a vanishingly small risk.
I am glad to see this analogy enter the conversation, along with a willingness to discuss evidence from other countries.

More of this, and soon! And let's expand the conversation to include other forms of pandemic theater, most emphatically and urgently the needless and rights-violating mass, indefinite home detentions, usually called "lockdowns."

-- CAV

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