Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Literary Corner: If You Look at Children

2020 is the "Desperate Housewives" of years, with writers so addicted to over-the-top melodrama for its own sake that they'll sacrifice any kind of meaning for a momentary effect, and you keep dissolving into giggles at the moment when you ought to be taking it the most seriously. Hurricanes in Manhattan isn't crazy enough, it's been done before, so they have to have a tornado watch in Manhattan instead. Give me a break.

In any case, it passed, having done little in my neighborhood other than to knock down a lot of tree branches, showing a particular hostility to the locust trees, seen above, in a post-hurricane dappling of late-afternoon sun (and a very pleasant post-hurricane breeze).


Like Things Go Away
by Donald J. Trump

My view is the schools 
should open. This thing’s 
going away. It will go away 
like things go away 
and my view is schools 
should be open. 

If you look at children, 
children are almost — 
and I would almost say 
definitely, but almost — 
immune from this disease.

I don’t know how you feel 
about it but they have much 
stronger immune systems
than we do somehow for this.

(Fox & Friends, 5 August 2020, via The Wrap.)

OK, so as you know, children are not immune from Covid-19. They are less likely to get infected than adults, and much less likely to suffer from severe symptoms (though 10% of infected babies become critically ill, and children who have been infected are in danger of ending up with a multisystem inflammatory syndrome resembling Kawasaki disease, which is pretty scary), but those who do get infected seem to carry a lot of virus ("children younger than age 5 may host up to 100 times as much of the virus in the upper respiratory tract as adults"), and they can infect others, like adults, including their teachers, and their kindly, beloved grandfathers like PRESIDENT TRUMP:
Children under 10 were roughly half as likely as adults to spread the virus to others, consistent with other studies. That may be because children generally exhale less air — and therefore less virus-laden air — or because they exhale that air closer to the ground, making it less likely that adults would breathe it in.... And those between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus at least as well as adults do.
Also, I don't know how you feel about it but it DOESN'T MATTER HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT IT. Facts don't care about President Trump's feelings, as the guy says. And "like things go away" covers a pretty broad range of outcomes. The Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble—they're only made of clay—but viruses really hang around, though their virulence seems to decline at different rates and evolves back and forth. "Virulent" (from the Latin virulentus meaning "full of virus" or poison, which is what virus meant in pre-microscope days) is a terrific word, I'm glad it showed up. 

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.

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