They Said What?

Home » 2020 » March

Monthly Archives: March 2020

What is the single most unnoticed corona risk?

Dear They Said What Nation,

We are all corona all the time now.

Here is our latest coronaquiz, and all our previous coronaquizzes, now all in one place.  These are all freely sharable (with attribution, please) to get the word out. This latest quiz covers, among other things, the unexpected greatest hazard of grocery-shopping. Normally we would tease this to get more click-throughs, but we are actually going to give you the answer here both because desperate times call for desperate measures and also we are already getting tons of click-throughs.

The answer is: the handle of the shopping cart. Imagine how many other people have been grasping that handle all day. You’re distancing yourself from other shoppers, using self-checkout, shopping at off-hours…and yet you are physically embracing the #1 item — hard plastic — where the virus survives the longest.

Fortunately, for just that reason, my local Stop & Shop thoughtfully provides a dispenser of wipes…

…so you can disinfect your hands before you wheel your cart out into the parking lot.

In my opinion, it would also be helpful if the dispenser actually contained wipes, but maybe that’s just me.

A special shout-out to the organizations that have stepped it up in this crisis by making these quizzes easily available to members

Among wellness vendors, these quizzes are being made easily available by Sonic Boom and US Preventive Medicine. (Now let’s not always see the same hands.)

Among wellness trade and professional organizations, by National Wellness Institute and WELCOA. (HERO is apparently still pursuing a more traditionally broccoli-centric agenda, though they did thank us graciously for our offer to share our quizzes with their members. Not.)

But the biggest shout-out goes to Melissa Burkhart and the gang at Futurosolido.  At considerable expense, they have made Spanish versions of the first two quizzes available on Quizzify and their own websites.


New quizzes, new webinar–ask the virology expert

Dear They Said What Nation,

Here are two updates for you.

First, on Tuesday you will have an opportunity to query arguably the country’s leading authority on corona, as profiled here in the New Yorker.  (Disclosure: he is my brother-in-law.)  Yes, the Validation Institute is doing a webinar on Tuesday at 2 PM EDT– as a Friend of Al, it is free if you enter PRESS in the promo code. His name is Dr. Ian Lipkin, the John Snow Professor of Virology and Immunology at Columbia. If you recognize the name, it’s because he’s on TV fairly often.

Examples of rumors floating around the internet that you might ask him about: can you get re-infected? Are there two strains? Does the virus mutate? Could hydroxychloroquine prevent it? (This is a real thing — it sounds like something would make up.)

Second, two employee Q&A sets are now available. The original one is now updated — lots of material can change in two weeks. So if you haven’t circulated this one yet, now is a good time.

The sequel is still good to go. It covers why your employees might want to color their fingers like this.

There have been a zillion hits — we are allowing complete reuse of it with nothing other than attribution required.




6 easy ways to reduce coronavirus risk you didn’t think of

There are certainly ways to avoid coronavirus risk altogether, such as isolating yourself. But sometimes you just have to go to work, or interact with others. While you should be very concerned, keep in mind that in the last 30 days there have been many more cases of and deaths from the flu than coronavirus, though that could certainly change in a future month.

At this point, if you are reading this, you know the basics about hand-washing, not touching your face etc., but maybe there are 6 simple risk-reduction “hacks” you are not aware of.

(1) Mark your fingers like this

Use an indelible marker or tie a string or rubber band around your fingers, especially on your right hand. This will remind you not to shake hands, and to wash your hands or sanitize them if you do. If you are left-handed, you should probably do both hands.

(2) Use humidifiers at work

Most workplaces are very dry. Viruses can stay airborne longer in dry air. (Winter air being drier is thought to be one of the reasons flus are seasonal.) To oversimplify, the viruses attach to water droplets and fall to the ground faster in humid air.

Nor do you want to overdo it. If the air feels humid, it’s probably too humid. Other pathogens — molds in particular — thrive in moist areas. However, very few workplaces have this problem.

(3) Avoid contact with hard surfaces

One would think that viruses would live longer on soft, cushy surfaces than hard, shiny ones.  That’s quite counter-intuitive. If you met someone for the first time, you would certainly open their door, but you wouldn’t jump into their bed. (Cue sophomoric joke here about swiping right.)

And indeed beds and other soft surfaces do harbor all sorts of other microscopic life forms, most of which wouldn’t harm you or we’d all be extinct by now. For instance, you should swap out your pillows every year or so because dust mites like to set up housekeeping in them. But for cold, flu and coronavirus, it’s the hard, shiny public surfaces that will get you.

(4) Reduce the number of hard surfaces in public places

Prop open doors. Door handles (or pushing on revolving doors) are probably the #1 surface that people come into contact with, without thinking twice about it.

Obviously, this isn’t always practical. One could do it for the break rooms but perhaps not the restrooms. In that case, perhaps wrap tape around the door handles. Viruses die sooner on softer surfaces, and since people think of softer surfaces as carrying more germs (they do – just not coronavirus), they will be more likely to wash afterwards.

(5) Check the ingredients in your hand sanitizer

Good old-fashioned alcohol should be the main ingredient — at least 60%. Many, for aesthetic reasons, prefer better-smelling or faster-drying active ingredients. Those will offer some protection, but alcohol rules.

(6) Play the Quizzify coronavirus quizzes…and send them to your employees

The first covers the basics.  It was profiled yesterday (March 9) in Employee Benefit News.

Like with The Pink Panther and arguably The Godfather and National Lampoon’s Vacation, the sequel — which is just coming out now — is better than the original.


%d bloggers like this: