Let’s breathe freely

There has been much dispute since the pandemic began about the efficacy of face masks, even within the medical community. Some doctors say wear it. Others say its help is minimal.

I favor the latter approach. I don’t wear masks. I am not a pandemic denier, and I am not anti-vax. I have been vaccinated, though hesitantly this time due to the rush job.

I fight the pandemic in two ways: First, I wash my hands a bit more frequently. Second, I embrace social distancing, which does not require changing my lifestyle in the slightest.

It appears that if you are ill and cough or sneeze, the mask will help reduce whatever you may fling into your immediate vicinity. The mask helps you protect others. Makes sense.

However, if you are healthy, it does little to block your inhaling Kung Flu because virus droplets are microscopic, passing through most materials and around spaces in your face coverage.

And then there is the weird political aspect to the pandemic. If you are a leftist, you embrace masks. If you are a conservative, you embrace liberty. Do viruses vote?

Thankfully, here in Mexico, mask obsession is minimal. And we have few Karens. But there are places you must wear a mask. One is my wife’s gym, which is quite heavy-handed on the mask issue.

And wearing a mask while exercising, from what I have read, is a lousy idea. Exercising or not, it’s unwise to inhale your lungs’ exhaust.

I recently discovered a solution for her. It’s the unmask. That’s one in the photo. It’s sold by a small American enterprise. You can breathe normally through it. I bought one for her. It arrived this week.

If you want to unmask, buy one. If you enter the code UC20 at checkout, you’ll get a 20% discount. Tell them that Felipe sent you, and you’ll score an additional reduction of 0%.

That’s not a typo. I’m always here to serve, amigos.

Kung Flu facts & figures

Occasionally, I look at my daughter’s Facebook page. I did that today, and rolled my eyes at the mass of Kung Flu posts. She worries! Another Facebook page, a chat site that deals exclusively with my mountaintop town, also fixates on Kung Flu numbers. Worries!

It appears Mexico is having a sizable increase in cases due to that Delta variant, which is, I hope, the last variant we’ll see with this pandemic. Pandemics usually last one to two years, so we likely have to slog through a bit more of this, and the media-driven hysteria too.

Don’t discount the media-driven hysteria. It’s a fresh element to pandemics. The other fresh element is that it appears the Red Chinese developed the Kung Flu and then, accidentally or not, let it get away from them. Bio-warfare or big boo-boo? Lord knows.

I look at the hysteria, and I look at the facts, which are that the general survival rate is somewhere around 98 percent, but somewhat lower for old folks like me. Any virus will kill old folks faster than younger folks. And if you sum up the cases of any virus within a large population like a city, state, nation or globally, those numbers will get spooky.

Not just viruses. Cancers, heart attacks, traffic fatalities, murders, etc., if the population is large, the fatality figures will be hefty too.

But the numbers are meaningless without taking into consideration the population number in question:

In Mexico, the death toll now sits at around 246,000. Wow! That’s scary. But it’s about 0.19% of the population. Not so scary now, huh? In the United States, the death toll is about 635,000. YUGE number. The streets must be lined with corpses. But it’s, coincidentally, also about 0.19% of the U.S. population. The world death toll to date is about 4,334,000. That’s four million-plus. Good Lord!

But it’s about 0.055% of the global population.

It’s a question of perspective, little of which is mentioned by the media, just the fat-looking numbers.

In contrast, the Bubonic Plague of the 1300s wiped out about one-third of Europe’s population, 25 million people.

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Here in Mexico — at least in my area but, I suspect, most of Mexico — the government mimics what the United States does. Stay home, wear masks, close your business, etc. We also have little rubber mats filled with bleach or something at the entrance to businesses. You know, to disinfect the soles of your shoes where viruses might hitch a ride.

Is that silliness done above the border?

I read a news story recently from Nuevo Leon which reported those rubber rugs do squat except get bleach on your shoes. I always step around them. Nobody cares.

And my very favorite: bottles of antibacterial gel everywhere. Of course, something antibacterial has squat to do with a virus. It’s like swallowing an antibiotic for a cold. Does not work.

Masks, gels, rubber mats, social distancing. The government mandates them, but people mostly do as they please, and nothing happens to them with some rare exceptions. The big plaza downtown has huge signs warning that you’ll be arrested if you don’t wear a mask. Yet some people don’t, me included, and I’ve seen no arrests.

It’s theater. I see cops with no masks.

The masks are a joke. They do next to nothing. Viruses are microscopic. The cloth and paper masks most people wear offer next to no protection. Viruses can enter through your eyes. There are masks that protect against viruses. That’s one in the photo, a hazmat mask.

Not available at the corner drugstore.

Back to stats now: Sky-high survival rate. Ninety percent of cases get resolved at home in bed with Tylenol. Of the 10 percent who end up in the hospital, most do not die.

Most of our Kung Flu rules come not from the federal government, but from state and municipal officials who are going through the motions.

Local governments report things like the town hospital is at 90% capacity in the covid ward! What always is missing is that the ward has, say, only 10 beds allocated to covid, and nine are occupied. And those covid wards are never full. They are saturated!

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I’ve known a number of people who’ve had the Kung Flu, actual cases, not asymptomatic ones discovered by a test, an issue for another day. Friends, acquaintances and relatives. They got sick, they recovered. Just two were hospitalized due, I imagine, to being old and fat. But they did not die. And neither will you.

The end of faces?

I enjoy shooting photos, and I’m good at it, better than average. This is due in great part to working on newspapers for decades. You pick up things, skills.

My preferred subject matter is faces, but the Kung Flu hysteria over the past year has made that difficult. All the face masks. In spite of the pandemic’s drastic reduction recently — pandemics come and go — the folks in my mountaintop town cannot kick the habit. They are junkies. Face masks are everywhere. And gel.

But I still catch a nice shot on occasion though there’s a face mask in this one too. It’s resting there, like a toddler’s jockstrap, between two of the crosses. This woman sells artesanías on the sidewalk. The photo was taken downtown last Saturday just after a rainstorm. That’s a sheet of plastic behind her. Perhaps you can see the raindrops.

I hope we can put aside the mask fetish soon and return to normal. I have.

Hysteria drones on

When the Kung Flu pandemic started early last year, the government told us Mexicans to close our businesses, wear masks and stay home, following the lead of the U.S. news media, or mis-leadia as one wag calls them. The closure orders were enforced haphazardly, Mexicans being what we are.

Now, over a year into it, according to a government website that covers the plague in exquisite detail, the pandemic is winding down, but here is what I still see on the street: Most people wear masks, although many are dangling below their chins. I do not wear a mask except where it’s necessary to enter a store. I think masks do next to nothing.

It’s become pure theater.

If you collect numbers on any disease, or any way people die, on a national or global scale, those numbers will be sky-high. It will look scary. Thousands dead! Head for the hills! But let’s look at the numbers just from my mountaintop pueblo of about 98,000 people.

Up to this week, the percentage of our town’s residents who have sickened in any way from the Kung Flu is 1.54%. That’s it, ladies and gentlemen. After over a year of going bonkers, closing businesses, hiding in our homes, and so on. Well, you might say, that is exactly why the numbers are so low. Maybe. I doubt it.

The death toll from the plague, which I think is inflated almost everywhere, in our town is 136, which is 0.14 percent of the population, a stunningly low number.

I sit on the downtown plaza and watch the masked zombies pass by. Most of those with toddlers, and even larger kiddies, have them masked up. For a toddler, a year is a fat chunk of his life, so he thinks this is normal, not knowing that Mom and Dad are nutcases because the number of children who’ve sickened from the Kung Flu is mostly zero.

And then there is the fact that people’s reaction to the pandemic is fairly well split along political lines. Since when did viruses join a party?