Monday, December 20, 2021

Considering risk

It will soon be two years we have been dealing with COVID. Two years! 

I'm one of the cautious ones. I still believe the best path is to follow the science (even when I might be ridiculed for saying that because it's become a buzz phrase); listen to physicians and epidemiologists who know what they're talking about because I am not trained in that field; and consider the risk. 

I work in risk assessment for a living. It involves coming up with a "risk appetite" which means deciding how much risk you're willing to take. This decision is made considering the controls in place to mitigate risk (e.g. in the case of COVID, the vaccine) and governing yourself accordingly. 

It's more complicated than that, but that's the basic formula. 

I have a fairly tolerant risk appetite at this point. I have had the two-part vaccination and the booster. Between the second vaccination and the booster, I had a "breakthrough" case which was like a mild case of the flu, the worst of which lasted two days. I got a monoclonal infusion offered by the hospital my physician's office is affiliated with. I feel fairly well protected. 

Because I'm still somewhat cautious, I wear a mask to the grocery store and hardware store. Tonight I'm going to a concert at the local symphony call, and we will be asked to wear masks. I have no problem with this. 

In small groups, I don't wear a mask. I don't wear one to church, although I might start doing so again, or choose to watch online again, if the cases in our area increase. I am not afraid of getting deathly sick should I get COVID again, but I want to think about those around me and not spread it to them.  

I don't know what is going to happen with the omicron variant. I understand it spreads faster and is more transmissible than other variants. But it seems symptoms are not as bad as they are with the others.

My company still allows folks to work from home and that is what I am choosing to do, but it's more because I would have to travel if I were to go onsite than fear of getting sick. Working from home, for me, is a matter of convenience. I have folks who work for me who are going into the office some, and they are doing fine with it. 

I don't plan to go into lockdown or semi-isolation again unless required to do so by our local governments. I could be wrong, but I don't see that happening.

Like everyone, I am tired of this. But it's what we have to live with, for now anyway, and I'll continue to assess the risk and carry on. 


Ed said...

I'm pretty much in the same boat though I do still wear a mask at church, especially since most of our church goers are probably in the higher risk categories. The one thing that gives me pause is how it is portrayed in the media. At first, the omicron variant was breathlessly listed as being a lot more contagious and while that may be, we didn't and still don't have a lot of data on how it affected us and people took it way too seriously. But now the media emphasis is on how mild the symptoms and people are not really taking it probably serious enough and the media is leaving out the critical piece of information. Omicron appears to have mild symptoms for those of us who are vaccinated and get a breakthrough infection. Initial reports on those who are unvaccinated however don't paint so rosy of an outcome.

I, like you, found myself at my daughter's Christmas orchestra performance last night and I was one of the few with a mask on. Meanwhile, the audience was chock full of people coughing, sneezing and sniffling, exactly the signs omicron presents in vaccinated people. I fear it was probably a super spreading event and just in time for the holidays.

Kelly said...

I will say ditto to pretty much everything you said. As I ran a few errands this morning, I noted that I'm one of the few who still wears a mask in public places. I make no apologies for that.

Ellen D. said...

Well, that sounds like common sense to me! If only there were more people who thought as you do! I think deciding on the risk of each situation is a thoughtful way to stay safe. I wear a mask when out in the public too and we will take a rapid test before our Christmas Eve gathering (just to be on the safe side)! Hope your holidays are happy and safe!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for putting into words in a much better way than I could have done exactly how I feel about it all.

Jeff said...

Interesting times, and we're all so tired. I still wear a mask when out and at church except for when preaching... Most still wear a mask at church (one of my church requires it), but not so much in the stores and around town. And then, this is a big no-vaccine area with only about 30% vaccinated (it's higher than that in my churches, but there are still others that are taking no precautions). As an attorney, could there be any liability to someone who wasn't vaccinated and then spread it?

Bob said...

I don’t think so, Jeff. Someone might try it, perhaps on a negligence theory (“knew or should have known” that their action/inaction would cause harm), but I think it would be a steep burden of proof.

Ed said...

I've pondered similar thoughts as Jeff only along the lines of someone hosting an event where it is known that it will be too crowded to safely socially distance and it ends up spreading the virus and a death results. I would think it much easier to hold the host liable and easier to prove.

This came to mind as the above mentioned Christmas concert. Last year it was held in a huge venue with chairs set up in family groups and distanced apart. This year it was held in a small venue, poor air circulation and no possible way to socially distance.

Bob said...

It's been a long time since I kept up with case law and an even longer time since law school. But I did some quick research and there is some legal precedent for liability for spreading an illness. The cases I found were pretty old. Given the strong feelings about COVID, I would not be surprised to see someone try it. I still, however, think it would be a steep burden for a plaintiff. I think the primary litigation coming out of this pandemic be in regard to vaccine mandates (and we're already seeing it).

Andrew said...

Well said! Hope we get some relief in 2022! Merry Christmas!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Me too Bob. Happy Christmas.

Ed said...

I'm sure you are correct Bob. And the little blurb saying masks are encouraged is probably enough to absolve all but the most guilty from trial.