How do we use time wisely?

Corona infection protection: Silence is golden

Two young women get on the subway and sit near me. They wear masks so far, so normal. But they talk and laugh loudly, incessantly, gesticulating expansively. Gradually, the snob of anger comes up in me. In my imagination, the interior of the train is transformed into this unsavory simulation that researchers at Kobe University created to visualize how aerosols and droplets are distributed in space when you speak. Lumps of spit fly around, aerosols spread like the vaporized infusion in a sauna. I can literally see it in front of me as I watch the two women with a scowl. I sit down.

Two key scientific findings from the last few months: Aerosols, i.e. suspended particles that we exhale, are largely responsible for the spread of the coronavirus. And: The louder we speak, the more of these things we put into the world - where they linger for a long time and can be inhaled with little air exchange.

Wherever people come together, speak loudly and laugh, a particularly large number of them become infected. The President of the Robert Koch Institute, Lothar Wieler, recently recalled this. A mouth and nose covering, if put on correctly, can counteract this effect. But the colored dots from the simulation do not magically disappear. They are still there and, ejected in large quantities, can find their way past the mask. So anyone who comes together in closed rooms should speak softly and carefully. Or not at all.

Germany, a Corona summer fairy tale

Germany survived the Corona summer comparatively well. Due to the numerous sunny days, people were often out in the open, where aerosols are heavily diluted and distributed. Now that summer is over, the situation is more explosive than ever. The federal and state governments were forced to tighten the everyday and economic restrictions once again. We spend November in the second "lockdown", which is supposed to act as a breakwater.

This brings signs of fatigue in the population and I feel it too, I wish for more serenity again. But I also know that if we want to be relaxed, we have to reduce our contacts. However, the further the temperatures drop, the more often we will inevitably find ourselves in public in a confined space. Many people are dependent on public transport to go to work, to the doctor, to the daycare center, to the authorities or to go shopping. Therefore, in addition to adhering to the corona measures, it is especially important that we pull ourselves together at crucial moments and keep our aerosols with us as well as possible. We could all be a bit more relaxed if there wasn't always at least one person or group on the bus or train who absolutely had to talk, scream, laugh or sing out loud.

Corona note: always making an effort

Far too often people see their duty in pandemic containment done as soon as the minimum level of consideration required by regulations has been met. If something was dragged over the nose and mouth before entering a public, poorly ventilated interior (or sometimes only afterwards). Certificate grade: always endeavored. Worse still: The points on the moral account collected by wearing a mask are often exchanged for temporary freedom from fools. During the train journey, the mask is pulled under the chin when telephoning so that one is better understood. The tilted window is closed, otherwise you can hardly understand the friend at the other end of the line. Anyone who behaves like this has not paid attention to intensive Corona lessons in the last few months.

Of course - contrary to the claims of many lateral thinking demonstrators - there is no speaking ban in Germany. You can still talk how, where and with whom you want to. And of course, in times when there is little human closeness, it is important that people in public spaces can continue to talk to one another as freely as possible. But to do this, we now have to go specifically to safe places, parks, large squares, of course nature. If we pause in the right place, we can talk, laugh, and sing with confidence elsewhere.

So how about a simple rule: Do not make calls in public transport during the pandemic. If you are not a midwife and have to help with a delivery at the other end of the line, I would be for: Leave the mask on, the window as well, shut up. In addition to the many difficult circumstances to which we are exposed, being calm in local traffic is one of the easiest ways to give our fellow human beings a feeling of security. It cannot be unreasonable privation if people speak at most at a moderate volume on the bus or train. Do you really have to coordinate purchases on the smartphone during the ten-minute train journey, over the noise of the screeching brakes, "DID YOU SAY CELERY OR CELLAR BEER?" I see the colorful aerosols flying.

To be honest: I personally would not mind if at least the silence on the train lasted longer than the pandemic. But that is - in contrast to our physical well-being - a matter of taste.