What if COVID-19 is not as contagious as portrayed?

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Yes, you read the title correctly. Stay with me here as I walk you through a couple of things. The point of this essay is to get people to think. I am not dispensing advice or telling people what to do — people have minds of their own, and they can make their own decisions with the information they have. Since mid-March, a majority of the States in the U.S. have been under shelter-in-place directives. Some States started reopening things in May, but no State, to my knowledge, has made it to the point where everything has been opened up. I live in Washington state, and I live in Franklin County, one of three counties in central Washington that are only in a modified phase 1 of reopening. The reason; our number of new cases is still too high to move onto phase 2. What does that mean? Most things are still closed. If they are open, for example, restaurants, only outdoor seating, and only at 50% capacity. Masks are mandatory to enter, go to the restroom, but of course, once at your table, you can take the mask off to eat — no more than five people to a party. The lockdowns and quarantines were all to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.

Unless you’ve been in a coma, or under a rock since March, you know everything that’s been going on — schools shutter for the last part of the school year, people furloughed and laid off, business out of business — the list goes on. All because we were scared of the spread of the virus, the thought was people would and could pass it on long before they show symptoms. I’m sure there is some validity to the claims, but I don’t know if everything claimed is entirely accurate. Let me tell you about my experience, and you can judge for yourself.

On June 23rd, my wife, kids, and father went to pick raspberries with our neighbor and her children. They rode to the farm in separate cars. They were outside. The kids played together and picked raspberries, and I guarantee they didn’t stay six feet apart. They had a great time. Later that week, on Thursday (June 25th), my wife received a text from our neighbor. We learned that on Friday, June 19th, they had a babysitter over to watch their kids. The babysitter’s father test positive for COVID-19 on Monday, June 22nd. Given the incubation period for the coronavirus, it is highly likely the babysitter had been exposed to the virus and highly likely that the kids and even the parents had been exposed. Also possible, my kids were exposed, and in turn, our family was exposed. Based on the information we have, that’s how this community spread works. So, we have one positive case and potentially 11 more people who were exposed or near someone who had been exposed. It’s been 21 days since my family was potentially exposed, and 25 days since our neighbors were exposed. Given the voracity with which this virus has been portrayed, I would have expected someone out of the 11 to have contracted COVID-19. At the time of this writing, I’m pleased to report everyone is healthy and fine.

Here’s what I don’t understand. We have the CDC claiming outbreaks at churches from one or two infected individuals. Perhaps individuals who did not know they had it. We have governors putting out fliers ranking our potential risk of getting the virus; activities such as spending time with friends outside at a BBQ — moderate to high risk. My neighbor’s kids spent I’m sure hours with someone who’s father was infected, but none of them contracted the disease. None of them passed on the disease. The media and health organizations like the CDC and the WHO say this is a highly infectious disease, and that we have to stay away from people who are not in our household, we need to wear a mask now if we go out in public. We can’t go to church; we can’t go to friends’ houses and grill. Tubing on the river or in the lake is too much of a risk. We were told in April, warm weather would help slow the spread, nothing, I repeat nothing we have been told seems to be true. Arizona, Texas, and Florida are the current hotspots in the U.S. Those are all states that have an abundance of sunshine, warm temperatures, and are led by Republican governors. But, wait before you think this is all political, California and Washington have had a resurgence in numbers as well, and those states have Democratic governors. Perhaps we are seeing an increase in numbers because we’re doing more testing. Maybe there were many more people infected during the first outbreak than we figured. In most instances, the death rate has been going down while the infected rate goes up.

How do we correlate these things? The virus is highly contagious — that’s what we’ve been told. People are dying. If I don’t wear a mask, I’m putting people at risk that I pass in the grocery store. Yet, my neighbor’s children spent a prolonged time with someone not typically in their household, who had been in close proximity for days with someone who did test positive, yet none of those subsequent people contracted the virus. We’re being told asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people are the greatest risk we face, and not wearing a mask is like trying to kill everyone off, but 11 people who by that logic should have been infected, were not. In my mind, this doesn’t add up. Someone, please explain, help me see what I am missing.

Update — October 1, 2020; None of us got sick from this incident. During this time we moved and have been in contact with several people, and still, we remain virus-free.

Just a guy trying to figure life out (still) and hoping I don’t offend too many people along the way.

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