Jim Perdue | Guest Columnist
Years ago I graduated from Florida Institute of Technology with a B.S. degree in Biological Sciences. As a first-year biology major I had to endure a full year of microbiology, and our study of viruses was a brief overview.
My knowledge of viruses is not extensive, but I can tell you that viruses are the smallest and simplest life forms on the planet. Their small size is the reason most masks won’t prevent the wearer from inhaling virus suspended in the air. A mask will keep the virus near the face of someone infected, if that person is wearing a mask, which will provide some protection to others.
Viruses have to be inside a living organism to replicate themselves, they can’t reproduce on a piece of meat you left on the kitchen counter. When a virus enters a living host, the proteins on the outside of the virus have the ability to stick or attach to a living cell. The DNA material inside the virus enters the cell and takes over, directing the cell’s components to make copies of itself, eventually causing the cell to rupture and release these copies into the body of the host.
Some of these viruses go on to attack other cells and some are released to the environment. As we exhale, we release virus into the air around us.
If a person is close to an infected individual, their chance of inhaling the virus goes up. The closer you are to that infected person, the higher your risk of inhaling virus into your lungs. It makes sense that if you keep your distance from others, you reduce your chance of getting infected. One report stated that you are 18 times more likely to get infected if you are indoors. It makes sense that if you are outside, any breeze will dissipate the virus if you are near someone who is positive for the virus. Another report suggests that up to 40% of infected people have no symptoms, they don’t know they have the virus. This may explain why covid-19 spreads so fast. Instead of staying home, in the case of the flu, with fever, congestion, muscle aches, etc., someone with no symptoms will most likely go about their business as usual, out in the community unknowingly spreading the virus.
It seems obvious to me that with so many people who could have this virus, without symptoms, any time you walk into a store or any enclosed space, the best way to protect yourself is to act as if any of those individuals might have the virus. Stay as far away from people as possible. The longer you stay in that environment, the higher your risk of inhaling virus.
It appears we are months away from having an effective vaccine that will end this pandemic. Facts and common sense give us the tools to make the best choices for ourselves and our families. I urge everyone to google these “facts” for themselves, and then decide. ■