Francis Koster: Think of battling COVID-19 like civil defense

Published 11:07 pm Saturday, November 21, 2020

By Francis Koster

There are four facts in this article you do not know.

Our population of COVID-19 infected people is split into two groups. The first group are those who have developed symptoms and are now visible and counted.  That number is growing about 162,000 per day in America. That highly visible group is spawned by a second invisible group — those who are infected but do not know it. Scientists have shown that during the previous week, 3.6 million Americans have the virus and do not know it. Each of those will infect about 3 others during the next 10-day window.

We live in a country that is No. 1 in the world both in the number and the percentage of our population of COVID-19 infections. Our hospitals are already overwhelmed and do not have enough doctors. At times during the pandemic nurses and patients have been in beds in parking garages, tents and hallways.

As I look back over my life and the various challenges we faced as a country, I recall when the military draft was in place. To protect our country from Nazis and Communists, laws were in place that forced millions of men and women to leave their homes, don a uniform and made to learn to stand at attention, follow orders and do many things to protect America. When out in public in uniform, I would routinely be told “thank you for your service” and praised for being patriotic. We had the Civil Air Patrol, where citizens noted and reported to authorities airplanes flying overhead and neighbors planting victory gardens. Our citizens mobilized to protect ourselves.

Today, we are at war with a different kind of invader, and our Civil Defense system is not working. Unless we come together, much worse lays ahead, caused by these people who are infected but do not know it — respectable looking people that carry a hidden “bomb” that damages people up to 30 feet away. If one “bomber” without symptoms infects three people over 10 days, those three infect another nine over the following 10 days and during the next 10 days those nine also infect 27, 10 days later (40 days from today) that one “bomber” infected 81 people. Forty days from now is Christmas and New Year’s week.

There are two (soon to be three) civil defense techniques that can be used to protect yourself and your family from these “bombers.” The first is to hide from them (social isolation). The second is to wear a “bombproof” mask.  If the infected but unaware “bomber” wears one, the” bomb” blast is reduced because they infect people only up to around 6 feet, not 30. If you also wear one, you are significantly protected and will not become a “bomber” yourself.

The soon-to-be-third tool to protect yourself and others is our civil defense vaccination plan.

Vaccination is like Santa Claus giving away free “bomb” proof vests. Success requires around 90% of all Americans — 330 million people — to accept this gift. The new vaccinations both require two doses about a month apart — up to 604 million injections to be delivered. It will take up to a year and lots of volunteers to deliver them to the majority of Americans.

This plan has three major weaknesses. The first is kids. One in five Americans is under 18 years old. No vaccination is currently being developed for children.

Infected children make up about 10.5% of all reported U.S. cases, and the percentage is rising. Without a vaccination for the kids, the only people who can protect them are their adults who get the vaccination, wear masks and act as human shields.

The second weakness in our civil defense system is that in October almost half (42%) of adult Americans said they would not open Santa’s gift and take the vaccine. Do the math:  If one in five Americans are children who will not have access to a vaccination and almost half of all adults say they will not take it, less than half the population will be vaccinated.  The maskless, infected “bombers” will roam free, with millions of targets for years.

And now the hard part of this article for me to say:  Our major weakness today is that we have 336 million Americans to shield from resident Americans that are not willing to be inconvenienced in order to protect their fellow citizens.

At this point we are not fighting with another country. We are in an uncivil war. I can hear taps being played.

Francis Koster lives in Kannapolis and is a local activist who has been studying, teaching and implementing local solutions to national problems for over 50 years.