Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Remember When ‘Fresh Air’ Was a Good Thing? I Do.

 

Here’s an article from the American Journal of Public Health, written in 2015, and titled “The Open-Air Treatment of PANDEMIC INFLUENZA.” (No, I’m not shouting, the term is capitalized in the article title.) The authors seem competent, literate, rational and sane, and the details presented are many and compelling. Sources are painstakingly referenced and footnoted. It recapitulates the history, and efforts to control and treat, several global pandemics, including the 1918 flu outbreak. The concluding paragraph:

However, more might be gained by introducing high levels of natural ventilation or, indeed, by encouraging the public to spend as much time outdoors as possible. It might also be prudent to stockpile tents and beds, because hospitals in the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere are not prepared for a severe pandemic. Temporary accommodation would be required to deal with the most seriously ill, just as it was in 1918. The Camp Brooks Open Air Hospital might serve as a useful model.

Over the course of the late eighteenth, and the nineteenth century, a collection of brave pioneers, both men and women, revolutionized medicine, and greatly improved outcomes, by introducing antiseptics, infection control procedures, cleanliness, and freshness to medicine, and by opening up hospitals and institutions to the concepts of “light” and “air.” And this, among several other common-sense ideas, is the model favored in the article, and recommended for the treatment of future respiratory-spread pandemics.

Somewhere in the last fifty or sixty years, in the interests of climate control, cost control, energy efficiency, and “safety,” that last innovation has gone away, and the environment in most hospitals (and other large buildings such as group homes and communal living facilities and office buildings where we live and work on top of one another) resembles nothing so much as an expanded version of the recirculating germ-fest of an airplane cabin, one where windows cannot be opened and the air goes round and round, blown through a series of filters that are changed, one hopes, as often as they should be, which, even if they are, probably isn’t nearly often enough.

The Abstract of the article reads as follows:

The H1N1 “Spanish flu” outbreak of 1918–1919 was the most devastating pandemic on record, killing between 50 million and 100 million people. Should the next influenza pandemic prove equally virulent, there could be more than 300 million deaths globally. The conventional view is that little could have been done to prevent the H1N1 virus from spreading or to treat those infected; however, there is evidence to the contrary. Records from an “open-air” hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, suggest that some patients and staff were spared the worst of the outbreak. A combination of fresh air, sunlight, scrupulous standards of hygiene, and reusable face masks appears to have substantially reduced deaths among some patients and infections among medical staff. We argue that temporary hospitals should be a priority in emergency planning. Equally, other measures adopted during the 1918 pandemic merit more attention than they currently receive.

A recent report on a local television station, Beaver County Nursing Home Presuming All 800 Residents And Staff Have Coronavirus, speaks of a home where about ten percent of the residents, and (at the time of writing) ten of the 300 staff, have tested positive, but they are treating the entire facility as if everyone has it. The result — total lockdown and isolation. Stay inside. Do not go outdoors. Do not pass “Go.” Perhaps the federal government will send you your $200. If you’re still alive, that is.

We seem to be going backward. And I wonder, when all is said and done, if anyone will have the bravery, the insight, and the honesty to admit that the closed and germy buildings we live in, particularly those we work in, and those many of us age in and die in, and even those we’re sent to for care when we are ill, have done more than their fair share to contribute to the misery we’re living through right now, as many of the establishments we trust to care for ourselves and our elders actually turn, pretty quickly, into cesspits of infection and disease. (Perhaps, another 100 years or so from now, someone will write an article making that point, looking at infection rates and viral spread among different populations in different parts of the country, and comparing outcomes from the field hospitals now being set up against those from the bricks-and-mortar establishments which were already in place. Perhaps.)

It’s disheartening enough to think in these terms. It’s truly depressing to read about snitches turning in their neighbors who are sunbathing in their backyards, or going for a walk by themselves or with a family member (it’s now a criminal offense to “exercise” outside the home more than once a day in Scotland–and there are guidelines as to what that means, and how long you’re allowed to be outside– a “walk of about an hour” seems to be the maximum permitted. Go out again, or stay out for longer, and you could be fined or jailed). I can’t wait to read about the first woman to call the police on the people living next door because they’re endangering their neighbors by opening their living room windows (when that happens, remember you read it here first).

What a stupid time we live in. That’s not my normal view of the world, but sometimes, one just has to acknowledge that stubborn fact.

I’m going for a walk. Outside. See you when I get back. I’ll decide when that is.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor

    These penalties for being outside and getting fresh air are crazy. It would be nice to see people treat each other like responsible grown-ups–oops, what was I thinking. Good post, @she.

    • #1
    • April 8, 2020, at 6:21 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  2. The Reticulator Member

    The State of Michigan, despite having a Democrat governor who tried to intimidate doctors into not using hydroxychloroquine on patients, is encouraging people to spend time outdoors as long as they follow social-distance guidelines. It is keeping the state parks open, and is taking camping reservations, or at least was the last time I looked. It has closed all the running water toilets and showers and replaced them with porta-potties and disinfectant, though. 

    I thought it was common knowledge that the usual flu season coincided with people being cooped up indoors (especially children in schools) and ended when the outdoor season arrived. So it has seemed strange to me that some people expect the COVID-19 season to end when people are keeping themselves indoors instead of going out. 

    • #2
    • April 8, 2020, at 6:26 AM PDT
    • 16 likes
  3. Stad Thatcher

    Around here, it’s pollen season this time of year. The only outdoor activity I do is mow the grass.

    The truth be known, we live in a sea of germs and bugs, and there’s no escape. Sure, we can take measures to mitigate the spread of a particular strain, but in the end the bugs will win some.

    • #3
    • April 8, 2020, at 6:39 AM PDT
    • 15 likes
  4. Bob Wainwright Member

    I see people walking down empty streets by themselves wearing masks. As if the virus permeates the atmosphere like pollen. 

    • #4
    • April 8, 2020, at 6:49 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  5. KentForrester Moderator

    Wonderfully informative and thought-provoking post, Mrs. She. I’ve never given the matter you write about much thought, but I will now. 

    Did you notice who posted right on top of your post? I didn’t do that on purpose. It just happened.

    • #5
    • April 8, 2020, at 6:53 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Coolidge
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Open a window! Remember when parents would open their child’s window when they were sick because the fresh air would do them good? While our HVAC units have been tied to endless vile microbial hordes of malign intent?

    • #6
    • April 8, 2020, at 7:19 AM PDT
    • 12 likes
  7. Stad Thatcher

    Sisyphus (Rolling Stone) (View Comment):

    Open a window! Remember when parents would open their child’s window when they were sick because the fresh air would do them good? While our HVAC units have been tied to endless vile microbial hordes of malign intent?

    My wife is listening to one of the Great Courses which is relevant to current events. The prof mentioned that the constant exposure we have to germs actually provides a strengthening to our immune system (although clearly some are deadly). Kinda like the Nietzsche approach of “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” I’m starting to wonder how many people have had the virus and didn’t know they did . . .

    • #7
    • April 8, 2020, at 7:30 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Ralphie Member

    People are just getting their vitamin D from the sun, the most effective way to dose yourself. 

     

    • #8
    • April 8, 2020, at 7:31 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bob Wainwright (View Comment):

    I see people walking down empty streets by themselves wearing masks. As if the virus permeates the atmosphere like pollen.

    As a possible defense, I offer that they might simply not want to touch their masks until they are someplace they can wash their hands to avoid cross-contamination from themselves.

    When I wear one, I don’t take it off until I have clean hands.

    • #9
    • April 8, 2020, at 7:38 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  10. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    And think of all those people on board those cruise ships with all that cross-ventilating air…

    Didn’t SARS travel through the pipes in a hospital?

    Why, yes it did. Eww.

    But not a hospital, an apartment complex.

    • #10
    • April 8, 2020, at 7:44 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  11. The Reticulator Member

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    Bob Wainwright (View Comment):

    I see people walking down empty streets by themselves wearing masks. As if the virus permeates the atmosphere like pollen.

    As a possible defense, I offer that they might simply not want to touch their masks until they are someplace they can wash their hands to avoid cross-contamination from themselves.

    When I wear one, I don’t take it off until I have clean hands.

    It was interesting to hear Roger Seheult, the MedCram guy, explain the procedure for donning and doffing his protective gear when he goes into ICU to deal with Coronavirus-19 patients. Putting the stuff on isn’t too bad, but taking it off is complicated because it requires careful cleaning of whatever you used to touch the gear every step of the way. At his facility they have somebody watch the health care people as they take off their gear to make sure they don’t miss a step or do it wrong. It’s very easy to do it wrong, even for the pros.

    • #11
    • April 8, 2020, at 7:44 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  12. Unsk Member

    I have been told one of the keys to Taiwan’s success in fighting the CoronaVirus was to open the windows and have lots of fresh air.

    • #12
    • April 8, 2020, at 8:23 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Stad Thatcher

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    And think of all those people on board those cruise ships with all that cross-ventilating air…

    Didn’t SARS travel through the pipes in a hospital?

    Why, yes it did. Eww.

    But not a hospital, an apartment complex.

    And Legionnaire’s Disease through ventilation systems, IIRC . . .

    • #13
    • April 8, 2020, at 8:27 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. MarciN Member

    I’m framing this post. Wow. Thank you. Beautifully written and argued.

    Bravo. 

    Shout this from rooftops. 

    • #14
    • April 8, 2020, at 9:58 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  15. E. Kent Golding Member

    I am walking, running, or bicycling every day. Both for my blood sugar and for my sanity.

    • #15
    • April 8, 2020, at 10:23 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  16. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    She: What a stupid time we live in. That’s not my normal view of the world, but sometimes, one just has to acknowledge that stubborn fact.

    She,

    Just remember that the facts don’t matter only the narrative matters. Please kick the next idiot who says that right hard in the shins. This hopeless but popular idiocy has really dumbed us down in the last 20 years.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #16
    • April 8, 2020, at 10:26 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    I wish I had put the info for citations on my Hard Drive but I overlooked doing that: a researcher had examined COVID 19 and stated that the virus has a better chance of infecting a person if the receptors for endorphins and opioids, both natural or prescription-sourced, are open due to lack of endorphins or opioids.

    The more miserable the PTB make us, the more likely we will fall ill.

    I am in total awe of the people who’ re Christians and are still having their church services. If only the rest of the nation had the gumption.

    • #17
    • April 8, 2020, at 10:35 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Stad (View Comment):

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    And think of all those people on board those cruise ships with all that cross-ventilating air…

    Didn’t SARS travel through the pipes in a hospital?

    Why, yes it did. Eww.

    But not a hospital, an apartment complex.

    And Legionnaire’s Disease through ventilation systems, IIRC . . .

    The “health experts” announce several times a year that flesh eating disease has swept through an entire hospital. One year it is a hospital in one city; the next year a hospital in another. Then the same “health experts” announce no one knows how to stop this.

    When I stayed overnight with my spouse last year during his hospital adventure, it dawned on me that the toilet in the bathroom had no lid. (This was by design.) So every time a nursing assistant emptied his bedpan or his urinal, the entire bathroom was flooded with aerosolized droplets of whatever contaminents would be in his urine or poop.

    I bet if the hospitals went back to having lids on toilets, and shut the lids when waste from patients was being flushed, these “uncontainable” infections would soon be a thing of the past. But that would require some common sense, a modern day rarity among “experts.”

    • #18
    • April 8, 2020, at 10:42 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    We live in an age of air conditioning. As @titustechera suggested to me during his visit to Texas, Americans are not hardier for being accustomed to life within 5 degrees of a controlled temperature.

    If we relied on hospital tents today, there would also be need of fans, heaters, more hydration, mosquito nets, and other resources.

    As Stad points out, the great outdoors is not very pleasant or controlled in many areas. Many people were already coughing and sneezing in recent weeks because of pollen. I was bitten more than twenty times by mosquitoes while lingering near a lake for just two hours. 

    The grass is always greener on the other side. Outdoor facilities and therapies are worth consideration, but are perhaps not always the best options.

    • #19
    • April 8, 2020, at 11:42 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    In Ireland you are allowed out to exercise as much as you want but only within a 2km (1.6miles) radius of your residence. That works out OK for me personally as there are plenty of options for walks. Not so good for many.

    In the meantime over-70s have to “cocoon” which is like a variation of house arrest. My poor mother walked a few hundred yards today to buy her daily newspaper, but she saw a Garda (police) car outside the shop and felt she had to turn tail and go to a different shop further away for fear of being arrested or, far more likely, embarrassed. 

     

    • #20
    • April 8, 2020, at 11:49 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  21. The Reticulator Member

    Charles Mark (View Comment):

    In Ireland you are allowed out to exercise as much as you want but only within a 2km (1.6miles) radius of your residence. That works out OK for me personally as there are plenty of options for walks. Not so good for many.

    Ah, that explains what I was told. My daughter is just a little further than that from the sea where there are wide, sandy beaches to walk on. But at the 2km mark there are plenty of other people around. 

    • #21
    • April 8, 2020, at 12:12 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. KentForrester Moderator

    Mrs. She, you left me behind on the Member Feed. I’m lonely and among strangers. Help.

    • #22
    • April 8, 2020, at 12:19 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  23. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Mrs. She, you left me behind on the Member Feed. I’m lonely and among strangers. Help.

    There are no strangers on Ricochet, only friends you haven’t met yet. And the member feed is a fine place to be. Quite a few of my posts live there in perpetuity, also. Have patience, it’s been quite a busy day. 

    • #23
    • April 8, 2020, at 12:36 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Charles Mark (View Comment):

    In Ireland you are allowed out to exercise as much as you want but only within a 2km (1.6miles) radius of your residence. That works out OK for me personally as there are plenty of options for walks. Not so good for many.

    Ah, that explains what I was told. My daughter is just a little further than that from the sea where there are wide, sandy beaches to walk on. But at the 2km mark there are plenty of other people around.

    Beaches! The greatest pariahs in Ireland right now are city-dwellers who have holiday homes by the sea. Mainstream and social media are awash with often hysterical stories about people hurtling like zombies to the coast, intent on infecting the permanent residents-I say “hysterical” because I was at my holiday home a few weeks ago and saw that the place was quiet, but still read that it was “mobbed”. Anyway, we are staying home this Easter in deference to the new laws and so as not to antagonise the locals, with an eye on the longer term. But I think it’s way OTT. 

    • #24
    • April 8, 2020, at 2:50 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    And think of all those people on board those cruise ships with all that cross-ventilating air…

    Didn’t SARS travel through the pipes in a hospital?

    Why, yes it did. Eww.

    But not a hospital, an apartment complex.

    And Legionnaire’s Disease through ventilation systems, IIRC . . .

    The “health experts” announce several times a year that flesh eating disease has swept through an entire hospital. One year it is a hospital in one city; the next year a hospital in another. Then the same “health experts” announce no one knows how to stop this.

    When I stayed overnight with my spouse last year during his hospital adventure, it dawned on me that the toilet in the bathroom had no lid. (This was by design.) So every time a nursing assistant emptied his bedpan or his urinal, the entire bathroom was flooded with aerosolized droplets of whatever contaminents would be in his urine or poop.

    I bet if the hospitals went back to having lids on toilets, and shut the lids when waste from patients was being flushed, these “uncontainable” infections would soon be a thing of the past. But that would require some common sense, a modern day rarity among “experts.”

    During my two-month stint in housekeeping at the community hospital where I worked (the union was on strike), I cleaned dozens of toilet, hundreds of times. I think there’s something to be said for “lids” although they’re just another thing to clean. But the statistics on how germs are spread when the toilet is flushed are horrifying.

    The other thing that’s bad (IMHO) are those blower hand dryers. People who haven’t washed their hands properly (more about that in a sec), just blow more of their germs around, rather than simply wiping some of them off on a paper towel and throwing them in the trash.

    Regarding hand washing: I imagine inhabitants of earth in the 25th century will be watching ancient videos of us 21st century types in enclosed rooms, waving our hands frantically in front of some sort of bathroom appliance, after which, when a measure of success has been achieved, about three teaspoons of cold water ejects itself, and, if one’s hands happen to be in the right place when they do (often they’re not), a microscopic quantity of it goes on the hands. Rub-a-dub-dub. And then repeat to try to get the soap off. (If there was any soap, that is. Which there often isn’t.)

    Honestly, it’s impossible to do what the “Tony and Deborah Show” keeps telling us we must, in almost any modern public facility in the United States.

    In that sense, I suppose it’s a good thing that most of them are closed at the moment.

    • #25
    • April 8, 2020, at 3:10 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    She (View Comment):
    I think there’s something to be said for “lids” although they’re just another thing to clean. But the statistics on how germs are spread when the toilet is flushed are horrifying.

    I have never understood why everyone I know with toilet seat lids never uses them. 

    • #26
    • April 8, 2020, at 3:48 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    I think there’s something to be said for “lids” although they’re just another thing to clean. But the statistics on how germs are spread when the toilet is flushed are horrifying.

    I have never understood why everyone I know with toilet seat lids never uses them.

    Probably because they don’t have pets ;)

    • #27
    • April 8, 2020, at 3:55 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. KentForrester Moderator

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    I think there’s something to be said for “lids” although they’re just another thing to clean. But the statistics on how germs are spread when the toilet is flushed are horrifying.

    I have never understood why everyone I know with toilet seat lids never uses them.

    Aaron, what company are you keeping? Hippies, germaphobes, people with painful cuts on their rears, people with rears so narrow and small they’re afraid they’ll fall in? What?

    • #28
    • April 8, 2020, at 3:57 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. tigerlily Member

    She:

     

    What a stupid time we live in. That’s not my normal view of the world, but sometimes, one just has to acknowledge that stubborn fact.

    Oh yes indeed. The only difference between the two of us on this point is that the stupidity of our era is my normal view of things. 

    Excellent post.

    • #29
    • April 8, 2020, at 4:30 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  30. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    I think there’s something to be said for “lids” although they’re just another thing to clean. But the statistics on how germs are spread when the toilet is flushed are horrifying.

    I have never understood why everyone I know with toilet seat lids never uses them.

    Aaron, what company are you keeping? Hippies, germaphobes, people with painful cuts on their rears, people with rears so narrow and small they’re afraid they’ll fall in? What?

    People who have been threatened their whole lives for leaving the toilet seat up, I think.

    • #30
    • April 8, 2020, at 5:46 PM PDT
    • 5 likes