3 Vs for pandemic victory — let’s get moving
- July 29, 2021
- Posted by: Joe Milazzo II
- Category: Blog
RTA members and partners,
The past 18 months have clearly been challenging for our region, and for America and the world. We have seen and experienced tragedy and pain, disillusion and anger from the ongoing global pandemic — and also heroic service, energizing cooperation, incredible biotechnological success, and unquenchable spirit.
The successes of the vaccines this spring had given many of us a sense that the battle was almost won. Unfortunately, the mutation and spread of variants have now made us realize that we are in an unexpected, extended overtime round — or perhaps we have found ourselves in a best of 7 series rather than a single grand final contest. So, while we have made good progress as a nation, the pandemic isn’t over, and indeed has given rise to updated guidance from the CDC and our governor.
This week’s blog elevates 3 practices we can focus on given our present situation. Let’s call them the 3 “Vs” — vaccination, ventilation, and velocity — that can complement the 3 “W”s, and help achieve victory over the pandemic.
First and foremost, by far: Vaccination. The vaccines have proven to be remarkably effective at preventing infection — even against the variants. Even for the limited “breakthrough” cases, serious illness and death are extremely rare. Plus, vaccinated people are far less likely to be infected to begin with, and they are also less likely to spread infection from a breakthrough case than from someone who is not vaccinated. In other words, “my vaccine protects me, and my vaccine protects you.”
The success of the coronavirus vaccines may be among the most remarkable technological achievements of our lifetime. In addition, the current vaccine situation in America is such that anyone can choose to be vaccinated, at no cost to the individual, as the supply is now effectively unlimited. The only issue is getting people “there”; that is, overcoming limitations of distance and hesitancy. Fortunately, NCDOT and area transit partners are helping to resolve the vaccine accessibility concern.
Second: Ventilation. It has been apparent for more than a year that, short of vaccination itself, being outside was the best way to minimize both viral exposure and viral load. To that point, and until I achieved 2+2 vaccination status (i.e., 2 doses + 2 weeks), I had made al fresco dining my mainstay. As I have said to many a colleague, “It may be hot outside, but there is a pandemic inside — so let’s eat outside.”
I continue to prefer outdoors, because it is enjoyable, even in a North Carolina summer, and because it still helps minimize the potential for infection and total viral load. Given the current situation in our region and nation with the coronavirus variants, outside remains an effective, workable solution. An additional advantage of outside dining, curbside or trunk delivery, etc. is that you control this mitigation measure. Note that this is different than say facial coverings, which require broad, continuous compliance from others in any given indoor situation for you to gain the full benefit.
While outside is ideal, there is another way to achieve helpful ventilation: bring the outside in. RTA Regional Leadership Team member The Umstead Hotel and Spa provides an outstanding, 5-star example of doing just that, as they bring in 95% fresh (i.e., outside) make-up air into the building’s HVAC system as needed. Perhaps we will begin to see establishments start to post their minimum percentage of make-up (outside) air in their HVAC systems to highlight their ventilation benefits for public health.
Third: Velocity. This simply means that movement is very helpful, while staying still or lingering in any indoor place for any period of time, all things being equal, adds risk — particularly given the higher transmissibility of the new variants. So let’s get moving, and keep moving. Or, if you are going to linger in a particular location, do so outside where possible. Either way, a benefit of velocity or movement is that you control the situation, and thus the public health mitigation measure.
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If you already have been vaccinated, thank you, and let me propose two more Vs for you: validate and vitalize, in service to others and to our nation. There is still an understandable level of hesitancy from many people about getting inoculated against the coronavirus, particularly given the lack of full FDA approval for the vaccines. My suggestion is to speak with colleagues that have not yet been vaccinated, validate and honor their reasonable concerns, while simultaneously offering strength, encouragement, and energy to your colleagues — i.e., vitalize them — about the opportunity to serve their country by getting a vaccine that will protect so many other people.
The affirmative decision to get vaccinated remains the most important step any individual can do to protect countless others (and themselves) and help America get this pandemic over with as soon as possible.
The 3 Vs can complement and amplify the 3 Ws. We have been dealing with the 3 Ws for over a year, and they can and will continue. We all should continue to wash our hands for a variety of health-related reasons, even when the pandemic is over. In addition, wearing a face covering and honoring physical distancing both can help, particularly for certain inside situations with either suboptimal ventilation or extended time spent inside with others (e.g., public transit, airplanes, etc.). Of course, getting vaccinated, and staying outside where possible, will do even more.
3 Vs for pandemic victory. So there you have it. These 3 Vs — vaccination, ventilation, and velocity — which together can help our nation achieve victory over the pandemic. The first V, vaccination, continues to be the most important; I believe that full FDA approval will increase vaccine uptake, along with validating and vitalizing others about the opportunity to serve their nation by getting inoculated.
Let’s get moving (and vaccinated), and let’s get this pandemic over with.
Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA Executive Director
RTA is the voice of the regional business community on transportation in the Research Triangle area.
RTA represents more than 100 leading businesses and 25 member chambers of commerce in central and eastern North Carolina.