President’s Message for August 2020
 John Isham

       Engineering Our Personal Fresh Air
(or, “Covid-19 droplets have no smell.”)

I am reposting this April report because of how severe the Manatee County pandemic has become.  It shows no sign of subsiding. The major reason is because many people are not abiding by common sense recommendations and wearing masks and practicing social distancing.  I just want to say to everyone, protect yourself, don’t get careless because of isolation fatigue.  As a way of reinforcing things, remember how disgusting morning breath and smoker’s breath is? Did you ever gag from cigar smoking or garlic breath?  It is the same thing! You just cannot smell it.  It’s other people’s air, no odor but filled with droplets of virus.  Yuck! Avoid!


All of us high risk people need to develop habits to follow to be safe and make it through to the time when a vaccine is found and verified.  These habits are not only what we are asked to do, but what we must do.  They amount to a change in lifestyle and are not so much of a change as to inhibit us, but to exercise common sense, safety and obtain peace of mind. They all follow from one simple concept: do not breathe other people’s air.  Avoid, with a passion, anyone who does not wear a mask. Not only are they risking their own lives, they are risking yours.  Not only are they flaunting their own ignorance, and are in your face with their smug, reckless, and gutless refusal to get with the program, they can kill you and should be treated as such.

So, how do we avoid other people’s air?  First, we should consider how to ensure our own living space is safe. We should take special measures to protect that. If there is any way to keep a stranger out of your air and out of your space, do it.  We do need to follow repeated hand washing, sanitize all horizontal surfaces, vacuum rugs often and flush toilets after closing the lid.  When we go out, always take our masks, have gloves handy and sanitize our automobile’s steering wheel and knobs and surfaces where we place our hands and do not touch our faces. Droplets will land on your skin and will collect in the moisture in your eyes.

When outside, avoid any confined space and especially small confined closed spaces where there are other people, the smaller the space the more dangerous. Look around and evaluate, can air get out of there?  If so, how? If not, do not go in.  If items are needed from inside, call and have them handed out to you.  There has been no scientific opinion on how long it takes dead air to clean itself.  The smallest virus droplets emitted in people’s breath do not fall to the ground but stay airborne and will concentrate if they are contained in a small area and are being continually replenished.  Air conditioning has been shown to move virus contamination around in the air in a room and contaminate others far from the radiating source.  I hope air conditioning filters are cleaned or changed when places sanitize.

Unfortunately, many small places are those we like to frequent: specialty stores, hair-cutting establishments, unique restaurants, flower shops, etc. Stay outside, sit separated at separated sanitized tables only for very short periods of time if there are other people present.  The safest places to shop, when you must, are the big box stores like Costco and Walmart. They have the highest ceilings and largest volume and therefore should have the lowest concentrations of contamination.  Go after they have been sanitized, preferably in the early morning during hours designated for older age groups.  Also most have phone ordering capability with roadside pickup.

It has been found that contamination results from one’s breathing in a quantity of virus particles over a period of time that build up and overwhelm one’s immune system.  Obviously, the quantity of particles to cause immune system saturation varies person to person. No one knows what their limitation is.  And obviously the concentration of the contamination in the air you breathe and the amount of time you spend breathing it are going to determine if and when you have overwhelmed your immune system.

Think, sitting in a mild shower of droplets, how long you sit becomes crucial. Sitting across the table from a highly contagious person for five minutes might be the same as sitting across from a mildly contagious person for thirty minutes.  It just takes longer to saturate your immune system. Another unknown is whether the collection of particles in one’s system is cumulative over time, from source to source. 

Then there is the incubation period up to 18 days.  Who knows if continued exposure during that time contributes to the overall severity of one’s sickness. No one knows when their system has reached its tipping point or when it may become overwhelmed.  It seems that in some, no saturation is reached, but they become carriers none the less.  Perhaps their contamination was a smaller concentration but not enough to cause symptoms. (This is why all people need to wear masks.) No one knows if they or anyone else is contagious or not.

All of these factors may become better known over time but sensitivity to contagion will always vary person to person.  All this points to one overwhelming factor – avoid, avoid, avoid contamination (avoid other people’s air.)  Walk outside, keep separations maximum, more than six feet, do not walk behind someone, particularly if you can smell them (perfume hopefully.)  Get out of their trail.  Get out of their way if they are moving faster. Remember bloodhounds can follow a scent of a trail for hours, perhaps days, after it was made, (so something must have been left in their wake).  If you are a former smoker or even a nonsmoker, you know immediately when you enter a room that someone is smoking or someone has been smoking.

But Covid-19 droplets have no smell.  When walking outside with people, you know someone is smoking around or up ahead of you because you can smell it.  But again, Covid-19 particles have no smell.  If someone is spewing droplets into the air near you, they will float and travel on the same air currents as smoke would. You just can’t smell them or see them. Walk as often as you can in the open air.  Breathe deeply and clean out your lungs. Enjoy your freedom and safety.

There is one caveat.  We all are basing our thoughts about the future assuming that overcoming the sickness yields immunity and a vaccine will also yield immunity.  This may not be valid.  Already it has been reported that some people have been infected twice.  As William Bendix as Chester A. Riley in the “Life of Riley” used to say, “What a revoltin’ development this is.”


Presidents Since the 50th Anniversary
John Isham  2018 to 2020
Carol Bartz   2016  to 2018
Martha Pelletier 2015
Bill Peruzzi:(winter) and Martha Pelletier (summer)   2014
Bill Peruzzi (winter) and Joan Butcher (summer)  2013
Grace Hirsch January 2012
Lorraine Berry  2009-2011