Loggers ultimate social distances, but not immune to COVID-19

By Niels de Hoop April 17, 2020

My next-door neighbor was off work for two weeks in March while his workplace, an “essential industry” making pipes, was being sanitized. A co-worker of his caught COVID-19. The co-worker’s wife actually brought it home. Both ended up in the hospital. The wife recovered and went home. The co-worker did not.

Other corona patients are interviewed on TV and say it was just like a mild cold.

So, what’s really going on? Well, a lot of things, mostly based on lack of knowledge:

  1. There are many species of corona viruses. Four species of the common cold are corona viruses (HCov-229E, -NL63, -OC43, and –HKU1).

  2. Seven species and sub-species of corona viruses are known to infect humans, including the four above. Many more infect animals.

  3. Our biology teachers taught us viruses and bacteria mutate easily. With that in mind, how many strains of COVID-19 are we really dealing with?

  4. COVID-19 is new, first identified in December 2019, so tests to determine if you have COVID-19 are new.

  5. New tests generally have accuracy problems. Think of the early pregnancy tests (EPT) of the 1970s with 30% to 50% false positives.

  6. Some people are more immune than others.

  7. If you’ve had the flu, you might actually be more susceptible to COVID-19 — your body might overreact using the wrong “weapons.” This may be why children are not affected much, but they can be carriers who infect grandparents.

  8. Colds, flu’s and pneumonia haven’t gone anywhere. A person might have several germs at the same time. In fact, they often do.

For now, this is what we know:

  1. Anyone who catches COVID-19 is 10 times more likely to die from it, compared to the regular flu.

  2. Some middle-age people who needed hospitalization described it as a terrifying near-death experience.

  3. Most of the fatalities happen to people with underlying health conditions, usually high blood pressure, heart conditions and diabetes.

  4. Many people have high blood pressure, diabetes, etc., including loggers and family members of loggers.

What’s a logger to do?

Well, start with something that loggers do best — Social Distancing. This works great on the job. Each operator and truck driver stays in his own machine and communicates through hand signals, radio or cell phone. The problem, of course, is the gathering spots – lunch time at the set, commuting in the crew truck, and hugging the kids at home.

Changing our habits a little can make a big difference. We can do things like stay a little farther apart at lunch, but still close enough for conversation. We can all wash hands or use hand sanitizer before eating (hand sanitizer is a substitute for washing; washing hands is better). Truck drivers can use hand sanitizer when leaving the set and when leaving the millyard.

If carpooling, avoiding the maximum (or recirculate) setting on the AC will allow more fresh air in. The Max setting is simply a recirculate setting — nothing Max about it.

Refueling at the convenience store is another “gathering” spot. Use gloves at the fuel pump. Use hand sanitizer after leaving and before eating that snack or opening that pack of cigarettes.

Home might actually be the worst place in terms of getting sick, especially if there are children at home. Schools and ball sports are germ factories, including hepatitis, measles and other unpleasant infections. Teach children to wash hands as soon as they get home. Hold family powwows to discuss what each person can do to slow the transmission of diseases.

All the things that help prevent colds and flu apply to COVID-19, so there is a double benefit. This includes eating healthy and getting adequate sleep.

Dealing with COVID-19 may seem like a New Orleans problem (and it is), but only “social distancing” will keep it out of the rural areas. One thing to note is that when rural people catch COVID-19, they are more likely to die from it. In fact, in Louisiana, the fatality rate is the worst in Winn and Red River parishes