Reader's View: With COVID-19, social distancing in order

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The essential nature of all viruses is to infect a host cell, replicate, package its nucleic acid, and exit the cell. In the process, viruses have evolved to move through a broad range of chemical environments. Research suggests that viruses are the most abundant biological entities on the planet.

With that in mind, I have little doubt that COVID-19 is already here in the Northland.

As the executive director of a global science nonprofit, I’ve spent the better part of 20 years researching in the physical sciences with a focus on microbiology and, in particular, viruses. I am by no means an expert in virology, but I am confident in my ability to gather the facts on whether particular viruses are friends or foes. In the case of COVID-19, we have a formidable foe.

Tedros Adhamon Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization (WHO), urged countries not to give up on containment as a strategy, saying it would help buy time to develop a vaccine and prepare health systems.

“It’s not influenza, and it’s not behaving like influenza,” Michael Ryan, director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said at a WHO briefing. He said the death rate is 2% or possibly higher.


The correct course of action to stem the tide of this pandemic is social mitigation through community distancing. We owe it to our loved ones and neighbors to distance ourselves for the time being, if only for the most vulnerable in our society. So tomorrow morning when I awake to the sun rising over our majestic Lake Superior, my children will not be heading off to school. Instead, we'll celebrate a week or two of social distancing with long-overdue Monopoly matches, hikes in our stately parks, and a lot of extra hand washing.

Bill Fischer


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