Japan shows it is all about the face masks
Early on, Japan had more cases of Covid-19 than the U.S. Yet, while the U.S. has reported 81,771 deaths, Japan has only reported 621 deaths. While Japan is 39% of our population, it has had only 1% of our Covid-19 deaths.
Meanwhile, Japan kept its economy open. U.S. unemployment spiked from 3.5% in February to 4.4% in March to 14.7% in April. Japan’s unemployment roses from 2.4% in February to 2.5% in March to an estimate of 3.2% in April. Japan’s two-month loss of jobs is estimated at only 0.8%, while ours was 11.2%.
What is going on? What is their magic formula? Japan has kept their businesses open and still has only a tiny fraction of our Covid-19 deaths. The difference is face masks. Almost everyone in Japan wore face masks in public, starting in January. For this reason, the virus was not able to spread widely. Also, because the Japanese understand that face masks work, they knew it was not necessary to close their economy.
An exception to Japan’s stellar track record was the Sakura (cherry-blossom) festivals. This important cultural festival celebrates the beauty and brevity of life. Face masks would interfere with the vibe. Our son who lives there told us that very few people wore face masks during Sakura. Sure enough, in the following days, there was a spike in Covid-19 cases.
The recent deaths indicate that Covid-19 infections are now declining in the U.S., with a half-life of around 40 days. In Japan, even as they are open for business, Covid-19 is currently declining about twice as fast as the U.S.
Japan has demonstrated that it is all about the face masks. We have shut down ten times as much of our economy, yet Japan has been far more effective in limiting the virus.
If Covid-19 still exists when the flu season picks up again next winter, we can follow the example of the Japanese. They kept working, yet they also kept the Covid-19 impact minimal by wearing masks.
The U.S. now has the added benefit of herd immunity. During the peak of the flu season, Japan kept the daily growth of Covid-19 to 8.5% per day. With a 20% herd immunity in the U.S. (as a study in New York indicated), it would cut this number from 8.5% to 6.8%, which is below the Covid-19 virus break-even rate of 7.1%.
Covid-19 during next year’s flu season could be a Catch-22. If we all wear face masks, it would not come back. If it does not come back, we would not wear face masks. The solution is that if Covid-19 starts to spread, we should all put on our face masks again.
Like the Japanese, the people of Kauai have been faithfully wearing masks. We can also follow their example by opening our businesses, including restaurants. Since no one on Kauai currently has Covid-19, we have even more reason to get back to work.
Mark Beeksma, Koloa
4-day work week should be permanent
I was very happy to see the Mayor put government employees on a four day work week.
For parents of young children, this means one less day to pay child care ….And therefore more money in their pockets . The same is true for those caring for kupuna. It is one less day to pay for a companion or adult day care.
For the public it is also a good thing. The longer hours mean that people don’t have to get off work or miss their lunch hour to stand in line at the DMV. They can now do any government business before or after work.
This is not a new concept. Hospital nurses have been working four day work weeks for years.
Aside from the court system, I cannot think of anything that can’ be accomplished in a longer 4 days.
I hope our government will consider making this permanent.
Mary Balcom, Lihue