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Richard Rider

Our family’s secret weapon against COVID-19

In dealing with the coronavirus, my wife and I (age 75) were very good for the first two months.  We really isolated. But now it’s July, and we’ve made some adjustments that increase our risks.  PRUDENTLY, we hope — but an increase in risk, nevertheless.

And in the process, I think we’ve found one innovation that improves our odds — an innovation that no one is talking about.  More on that shortly.

BACKGROUND:  Twice this month we’ve had our older son and his two young kids (ages 9 and 6) visit us for several days at a time.  Our grandchildren still enjoy being with us, and we’ve decided not to let this precious period slip by.

Remember, we are not a risk to our grandkids — they are a risk to us.  As of 7/20/20, in California (40,000,000 people), not a SINGLE kid under age 18 has died from COVID-19.  Not one!  The coronavirus is 90+% a geezer disease.

While those three visited, we all didn’t wear masks inside the house.   Social distancing was spotty at best.  We did wash our hands fairly often, and well.

In reading extensively about the disease, one thing that impressed me was that the coronavirus is primarily transmitted through the air.  NOT from touching surfaces.  Or even touching each other.  A closed up house — even with the A/C going — can become a bigger and bigger danger.

But we have a built-in weapon against a stuffy house.  It’s called a whole house fan.  It’s a fan that blows air from the house up into the attic and then out of the house.

The main purpose of the fan has been to cool the house, which works well where we are located (7 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean).  When we first put this fan in, we cut our summer A/C costs about 85%.  To date, we have not turned on our A/C this summer — even once.

Turned up to a high speed, a whole house fan (a big one) causes outside air to rush in though openings (windows, etc.) and rapidly exit into the attic.  So our primary coronavirus policy is to have our visiting kids always be “downwind” from us.  Their exhales are quickly carried back outside, via the attic.  It’s almost like being outside.

Let me be clear. This fan strategy coupled with other cautionary steps are NOT foolproof. Not even close.

My wife and I are still at risk.  The kids just left.  But we’ve decided that our increased exposure was and is overall an informed, calculated risk that we are willing to take.  Indeed, NEED to take.  Doubtless others will make different decisions.

Consider this question:  How much additional mortality risk does the coronavirus entail?  Let’s look at the CDC figures.  As of 7/11/20, during this pandemic, 824 California males ages 75-84 have died who had tested positive for COVID-19.  The TOTAL deaths in this demographic were 15,649.  In other words, for every designated male coronavirus death in this age group, 18 men died from other causes.  Moreover, a significant number of those “coronavirus” deaths are people who would have died anyway.

Personally I am particularly at risk from the coronavirus. I’ve had two open heart surgeries, and have congestive heart failure (not as bad as it sounds).  Barring a SoCal asteroid strike, my wife doubtless will live forever.

Only time (and luck) will tell if we escape unhealthy consequences.  Tick-tock, tick-tock.

But regardless what you might decide with home visitors, such a whole house fan often (not always, such as in the desert) makes sense for the reasons noted in this article.  If you don’t have one, give it some thought.

If you want more info on California’s high cost electricity, solar advantages and details on whole house fans, check out my two earlier articles.  Both are a few years old, but still spot-on.