WEATHER: Waiting For The Dust To Settle
Illustration: Dust Filled Sky Over Gush Etzion (Image Credit: Dr. Barry Lynn © 2020)
My wife took out her winter clothes and exchanged them for her summer clothes. She says that she is fed up with this weather and refuses to take it anymore.
Yesterday was chilly, windy, and showery, and today is definitely chilly. But, the sun is shining, and it should keep doing so for the next few days, and temperatures should moderate as well. When we look into May, though, we see another increase in humidity and that perhaps another weak "winter" storm that will bring a chance of thunderstorms followed by showers.
Some of you might have noticed the yellow tint to the sky prior to last Friday's storm. Yes, that was the color of dust, and the rain that fell was not the "pure rain" we've heard about and written about in poems.
There is supposed good news making the rounds of the internet (and newspapers) concerning the coronavirus COVID-19. For instance, the Wall Street Journal editorializes that the disease has apparently infected greater numbers than reported due to the number of ‘hidden’ patients who were not tested but have been discovered to have had it — meaning the actual mortality rate is lower than the 3-4% estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO). For example, the apparent mortality rate in the US is about 5.5% — but it is possible that it is 10 times lower than that, i.e, 0.5%. However, in places that have done hundreds of thousands of tests and have a larger sample, the infection rate still ranges between 1-12% (e.g., UAE, Spain, Germany, and Italy (highest)). This is far from the numbers that would lower the mortality rate from 5% to 0.5% or even less.
There are those who argue that if more people are already infected beyond what we think, we'll be able to open the economy sooner. However, even if 10% of the population is already infected, that still leaves 90% who could become infected. Already the overall number of deaths is about twice that of the flu (in the U.S.) and hospitals are already overwhelmed with patients. The end result could unfortunately be many times worse unless a vaccine is developed and/or people continue to practice safe(r) hygiene (wear a mask, gloves, social distance, and wash hands!).
Sadly, there is further information concerning the possible mortality of the coronavirus even for patients in their late 30s. Researchers have found that some patients in their late 30s, 40s, and 50s are dying of strokes and that 4% of patients in their 40s and 8% of patients in their 50s require hospitalization. So, government officials need to think very carefully about how they open the economy and allow social interactions, even among younger people. Moreover, there is no evidence that people can not become infected more than once.
As Ronald Reagan was fond of saying: "Trust but Verify.” In this case, the government needs to test as many people as it can, people who have an inkling of feeling ill should stay home, and those who go out need to keep their distance from others. Then, the economy can hopefully be reopened wisely, while protecting the most vulnerable (older population).
One organization trying to implement safe practices is the Israel Defense Force (IDF). We dropped our daughter off at the induction center in Jerusalem, and we were not allowed to stay, but could only wave goodbye from a distance. She, like the other young women, came with large suitcases stuffed with enough underwear to last a month.
I left the drop-off zone feeling like I had forgotten something. I couldn't figure out what that might be, since I hadn't exactly "forgotten" my daughter as we drove away.
We look forward to seeing her again, but I have to admit that it wasn't easy to wave goodbye (even if only for a month). When I returned home, I put my oatmeal in the wrong bowl and almost put milk in my orange juice. Looking at the newly taken picture of her in her army uniform, I wondered if parents ever really see their children as they see themselves? Or, even as others see them?
If I had my druthers, parents would always live with their kids (and vice versa), but this isn't very practical and perhaps not very healthy over the long term. Still, if we're all in Israel, you can only go so far in any direction. Besides, when I got into this business of raising kids it wasn't so my daughter could always be the sweet child she is, but with the hope that she would grow up to be independent, wise, and a good parent herself. So, who is to complain?
My wife, actually. She sent me for another hearing test. For some time now, she's been complaining that I don't hear her. I agreed (what else could I say); so I went for the test. Much to my surprise, they said my hearing is pretty much like it was the last time she sent me — not much change (not perfect, but certainly within the range of expected range of sounds at my age).
She professes to be happy with the news, but I am not so sure. The strange thing is that I never complain that she doesn't hear me. I sometimes think that she doesn't listen to me — but that is a different kettle of fish entirely!
Dr. Lynn is a lecturer at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Earth Sciences Department. He is also CEO of Weather It Is, LTD, a company that specializes in reducing weather risk. Click here to read more of this writer’s work in The Jerusalem Herald.