Chicago physician Emily Landon, a specialist in infectious diseases at the University of Chicago Medicine, spoke Thursday as another increase in coronavirus cases climbs in Illinois.
Landon has regularly given speeches during the coronavirus pandemic in Illinois. Her first, at the start of the crisis, went viral on social media.
Read her full speech to Illinois Thursday below.
Thank you, Dr. Ezike and thank you, Governor, for inviting me to be here today. But this is not a happy occasion for me to speak.
Official health officials, epidemiologists and doctors, like myself, predicted that this fall would lead to more cases or hospitalizations and more deaths. We hoped that knowing this would help us take steps to avoid it. And many of us did these things. We dutifully wear our masks even though we do not really think we could be contagious. We keep our distance from friends and neighbors, we wash our hands religiously. And now that the weather is getting colder and things are still rising, we are not sure what more we can do.
You see, we are where we are today, for many reasons. But I am really worried about misinformation and fatigue that slips into and obscures our best intentions. I hear people say, ̵
I know many of you hear the same arguments from your friends on social media and even from the news. Sometimes people come up with these statements, dressing them up on some facts or graphs that look almost as compelling as the ones you saw today. They sometimes take expert comments out of context and make you wonder what we really think. They make you question any inconsistency every change in guidance. So today I want to put some facts straight. First, inconsistent recommendations are not signs of a conspiracy, nor are inconsistent data. They are evidence of a changing knowledge and epidemiology. In different situations, different measurements mean different things. For example, when test rates are low or changing rapidly, the test positivity rate may not be quite the same as when test rates are stable or when test rates do not rise as much as is the case. Everyone tries to use the best available information to make the best decisions possible. There are and will be disagreements about the details. There is no goal or measurement, but rather an understanding of the needs and pain of society, both from the virus as well as the consequences.
New data is coming every day. Science teacher. We change our guidance because we are learning something new. If you change advice, feel good that we are making progress.
Disagreement is a normal part of any process and there is no right way to deal with a new pandemic, but we are all in the same boat and we must try to row in the same direction as much as possible if we want to get a place.
Some people are still skeptical of masks because people like me did not know much in March about how important they would be in limiting transmission in society. Every single study now shows that masks reduce the risk. Common sense says that masks reduce the risk. Healthcare professionals would all receive COVID when caring for patients whose masks did not prevent infection. And studies of antibodies from healthcare professionals showed that they had only had COVID slightly more than the general population, despite having very close contact with patients who have COVID.
Yet no mask is perfect. But there is growing evidence that if you get COVID while wearing a mask, you can not get so sick. In fact, many of us believe that this may contribute to the lower mortality rate compared to earlier in the pandemic. Did you know that a study was conducted in Kansas that showed that areas with mesh mandates had lower COVID rates and lower mortality than places that did not have a massive mandate? This gives us evidence that masks prevent COVID. But it also tells us that they can reduce the severity of illness and that the mandate is important. Because in counties where there was no mandate, people could wear a mask if they wanted to, and they were encouraged to do so, but when everyone wears a mask, it’s better for all of us.
So no matter what you hear, masks are important. And masks are safe. Construction workers, health workers, artists, all kinds of people have been wearing masks for years without complications. So stop your mas and put on your mask – especially now that the weather is getting colder, which brings me to another point.
Warmer air is more humid, it has more moisture in it. You know this – that moisture keeps the droplets that come out of our mouths and our noses juicy, and when they are wetter, they weigh more and they fall closer to the ground. But when the air cools down, it does not hold as much moisture. It’s dry and our HVAC systems are not great for bringing moisture back into the air, even though they’s pretty good at heating it. You know this because you have to buy more lotion, you complain about your dry skin all winter, you can even buy a little moisturizer that you put in the corner and realize that it does not actually solve the whole problem because it is bigger problem than you can solve with a small humidifier. The dry air means that your drops are also dry and smaller. And they can get stuck in the air, they are lighter, they get longer and travel longer. It’s the airborne transmission that you keep hearing about, and it’s true. autumn and winter weather literally make COVID more transferable.
In addition, the cold weather makes us spend our time inside our energy efficient homes that keep the heat inside and COVID.
There have been several reports of events in the super-spreader related to this kind of situations. And they can be described with the three Cs: it’s a masked contact with people in an enclosed space, it’s crowded because the more people you have, the more likely one of them is COVID.
Many modelers have shown that indoor ventilation in most buildings is not sufficient to prevent the transmission of COVID when people are not wearing masks. So it seems that restricting indoor gatherings where people do not wear masks is an important part of preventing COVID transmission. And it is.
You see, bars and restaurants are one of the few places where people gather and they can not really wear a mask and eat and drink. Unfortunately, their employees and the restaurants and businesses are the victims here. But there is no way around. It’s not just models. Early data from the long show showed that recycled air from an HVAC spread COVID from one family to several other families right in the air stream. A quarter of Louisiana cases in August were related to bars and restaurants. And that was when it was hot outside. Over 100 cases were linked to a bar in Michigan in one week. And during the summer in Minnesota, 29 bars and restaurants started clusters that spread across the community. The closure of bars and restaurants and the introduction of mask mandates changed the course of the pandemic in Arizona, Texas, Florida, San Diego, Washington, DC, Illinois – I could go on.
This is not the fault of a particular restaurant. In fact, the proprietors of these places do everything they can to prevent this from happening. But the reality is that the restaurant can be completely safe from kl. 18 to kl. 20 and will be a super-spreading event from kl. 20 to kl. 22 It all depends on whether someone with COVID walks in the door. And you have to remember that people with COVID are contagious before they even feel sick. Some will never even feel sick and spread COVID to their close contacts while honestly thinking they are doing well.
Tests enough to identify all the asymptomatic cases are still out of reach, even in this state with some of the best tests in the country.
And all the contact tracking in the world does not tell you if you have been exposed to the source person if they were never tested.
As much as we will not admit it, we can impossibly know when we are a risk to other people.
The likelihood that someone, including me, has COVID, increases every time the case counts up in a community. And we are going in the wrong direction in every measurement. Today there is a higher risk than yesterday. And unfortunately, tomorrow will probably be higher risk than today.
And these facts about indoor without masks do not only apply to bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, this applies to any contact we have, including small gatherings in our own home. As our cases rise, our bubble must shrink. It’s the only way to stop the spread.
COVID thrives with this unmasked contact indoors. And then that’s what we need to stop. We flattened the basket in March because everyone warned the warnings and kept close contacts to a low number. Just your household, masked meetings with a barista who comes to your doctor, going to the library will not spread COVID, but it eats with your colleagues in the cramped break room. And the personal book club with wine and appetizers when you have to try to be 6 meters apart will be much safer over zoom.
Unfortunately, a Halloween party over the weekend could become a super-spreading event. And Thanksgiving could be a prologue to a tragedy for your family.
We have already had more than enough tragedies.
I know you miss your family and friends. And some days you probably do not care if you become COVID.
But you do not care.
We are all interested.
So it’s time to start planning your risk the same way you planned your vote. You planned your vote, didn’t you?
So go to these places. The IDPH website has all the information you saw here today that the governor showed you. It also has many tools that you can use to find out what is risky and what is not risky. You can also use the Chicago Department of Public Health website. And there’s a great free online tool from Brown University called My COVID Risk App. I highly recommend it. It uses EPI data from your local zip code to help you assess the risk of going to the grocery store or hanging out with friends and helps you find ways to lower your risk so you are empowered to make your own decisions .
In the end, I just want to say a little bit to you out there who do not believe a word I say.
You may never understand why the rest of us are still worried about COVID. Why we still wear our masks and wash our hands, why we skip the Halloween parties and make alternative plans for Thanksgiving, why we eat alone in the break room or scarves down a sandwich outside …
It’s because we have gravel and compassion for sacrificing for the benefit of our society, for people we do not even know. We pay taxes and stop at stop signs just like you do. But we know why we do it.
And we do not mind. It may be difficult, but we will continue to do so. Because we know that real freedom is not about masks.
And you who do not believe in me are welcome to join us at any time.