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Hello. It will be a long and hard winter. We offer a three-step guide to living safely.
The most effective public health messages don’t just tell people what not to do. They also tell people what they can do with only a small amount of risk.
This sometimes seems counterintuitive, as it gives people permission to take certain risks, rather than requiring maximum security all the time. In the long run, however, a more realistic approach is actually the safest, many experts say.
Human beings are social creatures. Most will not stay home for months. And pretending otherwise tends to backfire. This leads people to ignore public health advice and take needlessly high risks. “We need different, more nuanced, and more practical messages on coronavirus safety,” wrote Sarit Golub, professor of psychology at Hunter College.
(Federal officials took a step in that direction this week by shortening the recommended quarantine period after exposure to the virus.)
Today I want to give you a three step guide on minimizing risk. It is based on a Times survey of 700 epidemiologists as well as my conversations with experts and colleagues, such as Donald G. McNeil Jr.
1. There is one behavior that you should try to eliminate, without exception: Spend time in a confined space (outside your home) where anyone is unmasked.
Don’t eat indoors at a restaurant or at a friend’s house. Don’t have close, unmasked conversations anywhere, even outdoors. If you have to fly, try not to eat or drink on the plane. If you are going to work, don’t eat lunch in the same room as your colleagues. Group lunches have led to outbreaks in hospitals and elsewhere.
2. It’s best to minimize this next set of behaviors if you can’t avoid it: Spend extended time in interior spaces, even with universal masking.
Masks are not perfect. If you can work out at home rather than at a gym – or do your job or attend church services remotely – you are lowering your risk.
3. Now for the best news: Many activities are less risky than some people think.
You don’t need to wear a mask when walking or jogging. Donald, who is notoriously cautious, rides his bike without a mask. “I consider it more important to keep six feet away outside than to wear a mask,” he told me. “If I have a birthday candle in my hand and you’re too far away to blow it out, I can’t inhale what you breathe out.
You may also feel good doing a lot of shopping. About 90 percent of the epidemiologists in our survey recently visited a grocery store, pharmacy, or other store. Just wear a mask, stay away from others, and wash your hands afterward.
The big picture: I find it useful to think about the concept of personal risk budget. I do not spend any part of my risk budget on supermarket purchases because grocery delivery works well for my family. But from time to time I take distant walks without a mask with a friend or two. They help me stay sane as we head into a long and very harsh winter.
For more: The survey of epidemiologists – carried out by Margot Sanger-Katz, Claire Cain Miller and Quoctrung Bui of The Times – has much more, including how they are considering a vaccine.
Two hurricanes struck Central America in rapid succession last month, and the destruction is only becoming clear: infrastructure, farmland and tens of thousands of homes are gone.
A rapid wildfire in southern California has spread to more than 6,000 acres so far this week and has forced the evacuation of 25,000 residents.
Artificial intelligence researcher Timnit Gebru and one of the few black women in her field said Google fired her after pushing the company to increase minority hiring and draw attention to racial prejudice integrated into AI systems.
Molly Gibson, a Tennessee baby born in October, set the record for the longest frozen embryo to result in a live birth, over 27 years.
Modern love: Difficult moments may not bring love, but for a young woman, they bring clarity.
From the review: David Brooks, Michelle Goldberg and Nicholas Kristof have columns.
Lives lived: When Betsy Wade started at The Times in 1956, she shattered a century-old tradition of male writing in the news department. She also fought a sex discrimination case against the newspaper and became the first woman to lead the New York Newspaper Guild. She died at the age of 91.
Even when the pandemic ends, the film industry will not quickly – or maybe never – return to the old normal.
Warner Bros., one of the best movie studios, acknowledged this yesterday by announcing that it will launch its entire 2021 film lineup on its streaming service, HBO Max, on the same day they hit US theaters. The list of 17 films includes blockbusters like “Dune”, “The Matrix 4” and a sequel to “Suicide Squad”.
“WarnerMedia calls this a ‘one-year one-year plan,'” Brooks Barnes, reporter for the Times, tweeted. “But there will be no turning back. HBO Max needs the content, and consumers won’t just say “oh, okay” when they can’t get instant access. “
WarnerMedia has its own reasons for emphasizing streaming. He wants to expand HBO Max – which has struggled to attract subscribers since its introduction in May – into a streaming service that can compete with Netflix and Disney Plus. Warner Bros. is also a studio powerful enough that the change “has the capacity to overturn the theatrical model that so many people have relied on for so long,” Nicole Sperling, a Times reporter told us.
Outside of the United States, where HBO Max is not yet available, Warner’s 2021 films will receive traditional theatrical releases. To get a feel for how theaters are doing in some countries where the virus is better controlled: In October, more than 3.4 million people in Japan turned out to see an animated film, “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train ”, during its opening weekend.
Yesterday’s Spelling Bee pangram was strongly. Today’s puzzle is above – or you can play it online if you have a Games membership.