Rivers: social distancing sounds something an advertising executive would dream up

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

March 18, 2020



By any other name it’s a community mitigation strategy. But really, social distancing sounds something an advertising executive would dream up. Is it one or two or three meters, and does that mean we don’t need to wear a mask, not that there are any on the empty store shelves? How does one practice social distancing at the security check-in at the airport, or the checkout line at Costco, or at the dinner table in the nursing home?

The Chinese have suffered the onslaught of this COVID 19 coronavirus the most so far, shouldering the largest death rates and biggest blow to their economy, the second largest in the world. But their infection numbers have tumbled in recent days and now they claim most of the new cases are from people coming into China from somewhere else.

social distance - 4 sitting apart

This is what they mean by social distance – it works.

Was their apparent success in beating the virus into the ground due to social distancing? Well if that means forcing everyone, by law, to wear a mask in public. Or if all the cinemas and restaurants, etc. are to be shuttered. Or if all travel is banned as it was in Wuhan city and Hubei province.

wet market - dog

Those dogs are not being sold as a pets.

Wuhan was where the bug first appeared. It is believed to have mutated or skipped from some kind of disgusting piece of wildlife being sold in the ‘wet markets’ of Wuhan to those stupid enough to eat just about anything. It’s that archaic cultural thing. Rhino horn powder to get you excited and bat soup to help you find your way in the dark. But isn’t that what also gave us SARS a little over a decade ago.

The Chinese authorities have now permanently banned the sale of wildlife everywhere and they have expressed outrage that Mr. Trump has decided to name the disease after the place where it originated.

In apparent retaliation, one Chinese official has claimed that the US army had brought the disease to Wuhan. Russian trolls had also been making those claims, but the last time the American military was anywhere near Wuhan had to be just before Mao came to power. That would make it an incredibly long lived dormant virus.

wet market - meat

An example of cultural differences – this one just isn’t all that healthy.

Donald Trump has been accused of racism before and he is no stranger to the blame game. But for some reason China has just expelled some US journalists. Chinese authorities do have a nasty habit of hiding the truth so perhaps this is odious, and not just some kind of retaliation. They had muzzled their own scientists and social media during the early days of the outbreak, for example.

But back here in Canada we have finally done what our health experts said we shouldn’t ever do, that it would be counterproductive. We have banned travel, by airplanes anyway, and closed our borders to all but the Americans. Still it is worrisome that the degree of coronavirus infection in the US is not reliably known, and what numbers they do have are likely underestimates. So wait for it.

And now emergency laws are being enacted in each province to shut down any place anyone would want to go. That should keep us at home except for buying groceries and drugs, and maybe going to work. And then there is this social distancing.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking. Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington. He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject. Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa. Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Social Distancing Meaning –   Travel restrictions

Trump’s China Virus –    China Wet Market

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3 comments to Rivers: social distancing sounds something an advertising executive would dream up

  • Ray Rivers

    Gary – thanks for the information as always. You are right that the pentagon sent 17 teams comprising a total of (actually) 280 athletes in October 2019 – but none of them got sick there nor brought the virus back with them. There is a lot of conspiracy theorizing underway, including one that the Chinese themselves were weaponizing the virus and it escaped. Take your pick – I’m going with the idea that the disease migrated from pangolins from the one of the wet markets to humans.

    As for being confused I’d suggest checking out – https://www.statnews.com/2020/01/31/as-far-right-calls-for-china-travel-ban-health-experts-warn-coronavirus-response-would-suffer/ This is just one of many articles which at the time reported ….”Public health experts, however, warn that the move (to ban air flights) could do more harm than good.”

  • When I was very young I had no concept of the inter-relationship of politics and medicine. You got sick, you went to the doctor. Now I look at an American administration that is gutting the government as a means to enable tax cuts for the very super rich and the well connected and I see that among the gutted programs and departments were two pandemic response programs staffed by experts in medicine and public affairs.

    Ah, but then I remember my six years (out of 30+ with federal agencies) in which I was an Operations Officer in COTPER – Coordinating Office of Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response. Those years spanned a Republican administration. I watched the selective allocation of funds with interest.

  • Gary

    You seem as confused as anybody else on this subject. What medical authorities said restricting international travel is counter-productive? And 172 American military personnel were present in Wuhan in October 2019 to participate in the World Military games. A little more research on your part would have unearthed that fact. China didn’t manufacture its accusation out of thin air, even if it is farfetched.