Test test, test. OK. Just got to Donald’s.
Is it OK to lock my bike here?
Yeah, sure. You want to bring it inside?
If you don’t think it’s exposed.
We just, rather than shaking hands, bumped elbows.
Yes, the W.H.O. elbow bump. You want to sit down?
Should I wash my hands?
Yeah. You probably should, as much for your protection as for mine. It depends on what you put your hands on.
I wanted to ask you. We heard you, yesterday, sanitizing the studio. What do you do when you come home?
I wash my hands. I know the inside of my house is clean, because the only people in here are my girlfriend and myself, and we’re both still healthy. But people who live upstairs — and this is a two-apartment building — we have agreed that we will tell each other if any of us has a fever or a cough, and we keep some alcohol wipes in the front hall to wipe down the doorknob, light switch, and other surfaces we might both touch, just to make sure that there’s no possibility of us passing it back and forth to each other. I know it sounds kooky, but this is actually the way the disease gets transmitted. You don’t have to be a crazy germaphobe. Or actually, at a time like this, it helps to be a crazy germaphobe just by instinct. And here. I’ll wash my hands in front of you so that you know that my hands are clean. But the danger with somebody else is, of course, that they’re coughing. But I’m not. I’m fine.
I’ve never been in someone’s home in these circumstances.
Hey. How are you?
Good. Welcome back, and thank you for letting us into your home. I know we’ve been hearing a lot from you lately, so let us know if we’re beginning to exhaust your generosity.
OK. So far, so good.
So far. Key word. Donald, when we first started talking to you about the coronavirus about two weeks ago, you gave us an overview of what it was, where it was headed. Since then, a lot has changed. Given the evolution of the situation, we have questions related to this new phase of the epidemic, now that it’s very much in our lives. I’m working from home. You’re working from home. So let’s start with questions about precautions for people who don’t have the virus — which, presumably, is the vast majority of us at the moment — and how we can protect ourselves from getting the virus. What kind of activities should be avoided right now?
You have to be aware not only of people around you who are coughing, but you also have to be aware that every — basically every hard surface you touch might potentially have virus on it, unless you know it’s been cleaned since the last person that you don’t know was there might have been on it.
Let me tick through a couple of what we imagine, from conversations with everybody on “The Daily” team at The Times, to be the kinds of scenarios I think people want to better understand how to approach. A bit of a lightning round here. Is it dangerous, at this moment, to keep going to work?
Look, some people are going to have to go to work. Doctors have to go to work. But it’s not so much the danger. The reason the government’s asking people not to go to work is because it creates what they call social distancing. The less interactions there are between people, the less exchange of virus there is. If you slow down the virus, you change what is sometimes called R-naught. And if you get people to be more distant from each other, the virus is transmitted less.
Can you translate that phrase, R-naught?
Yeah. It’s called the reproductive number of the virus. It’s, “If I’m sick, how many people am I going to infect?” You never know the real R-naught, or the real fatality rate, or anything about a disease, until it’s completely gone through the world. So we’re never going to know the real answers to these things for at least a year or two, because they’re going to be different in Africa than they are in New York. They’re going to be different anywhere. But if you create more distance between people so that I infect, hopefully, no people, you’ve substantially slowed my part of transmitting the virus. And if you do that across the entire population, you really slow down the movement of that virus in the population. When a lot of people are infected, and a lot of people have pneumonia, a lot of people all need to get to the hospital at the same time. A lot of those people need to get on oxygen or on ventilators, and eventually you run out of ventilators. Then you’re making the triage decisions that they’re now making in northern Italy,…
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