The elevator problem in a COVID-19 world.


If you were reading this site on May 5, 2020, you saw “The surprisingly simple way to open America in 14 days and avoid a depression.”

The message was:

If you wear a mask, your virus-carrying saliva will not be transmitted to others. And if everyone else wore a mask, their saliva would not reach you.

Additionally, your own mask does afford you some protection.

So, if everyone wore a mask, the double protection would simulate a form of “herd immunity.”

We would not have to close down businesses. We would not have to wait for a cure. We would not have to wait for a vaccine.

Normal life could go on.

Today, I read an article about the problem with office building elevators. Here are a few excerpts:

The Elevator Arises As The Latest Logjam In Getting Back To Work
Written by By Lauren Weber, Midwest correspondent, Posted on June 11, 2020 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield

As America begins to open up, the newest conundrum for employers in cities is how to safely transport people in elevators and manage the crowd of people waiting for them.

If office tower workers want to stay safe, elevator experts think they have advice, some practical, some not: Stay in your corner, face the walls and carry toothpicks (for pushing the buttons).

Not only have those experts gone back to studying mathematical models for moving people, but they are also creating technology like ultraviolet-light disinfection tools and voice-activated panels.

To mitigate those risks, elevator experts stress, those riding elevators should wear masks, resist touching surfaces as much as possible and use items such as disposable tissues or, indeed, those toothpicks to touch the buttons.

Also, use hand sanitizer frequently.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends limiting time in elevators and taking one-directional stairs instead, when possible, as well as maintaining 6 feet of distance.

Karen Penafiel, executive director for the National Elevator Industry Inc. trade association, also recommends people face the elevator walls and not talk to minimize the spread of respiratory droplets that could carry the coronavirus.

The article also included the following illustration:

Do you see anything wrong with this?

–Resist touching surfaces.
–Disposable tissues.
–Toothpicks to touch the buttons.
–One-directional stairs
–Stay in a corner
–Face walls
–Ultra-violet light
–Hand sanitizer
–6-feet distancing
–Don’t talk
–One person per trip
–Avoid touching walls and handrails

Not only are they burdensome, impractical, and some are downright silly, but they don’t solve the problem: The COVID-19 virus is transmitted primarily by airborne saliva droplets inhaled.

That problem is addressed best by wearing masks.

–Six-feet distancing in an elevator is mostly impossible, but anyway, 6-feet is insufficient.
–Face the wall or stand in a corner? Really? Never heard of air circulation?
–One-directional stairs? Have you ever worked in a high-rise office building? (I don’t get the “one-directional” part. The person behind you will walk right into your droplets still floating in the air.)
–Carry toothpicks, tissues? Let’s get real.
–Don’t talk? How about don’t breath, cough, or sneeze?
–One person per trip? You’ll get to your office just in time to leave.

And look at that illustration. The person isn’t even wearing a mask, the #1 transmission preventative. In the entire 1,000-word article, the word “mask” appears just twice, inconspicuously.

If everyone wore a mask, you could take an elevator without worry. If you touch a button, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. That’s it.

No need to find a corner to hide in. (There are only 4 corners.) No need for ultra-violet light (which has not proven to work on COVID-19). No need to walk up 40 flights of the “UP’ stairs, and then find the “DOWN” stairs to walk down. No need for impossible and useless social distancing in a closed elevator.


We don’t even need a N-95 masks. Ordinary, cheap, surgical masks, like the kind outside of hospital rooms, will trap our saliva just fine.

If everyone else wore one, we all would be protected. COVID-19 would become less a problem than the seasonal flu (which also would be stopped by masks).

Doctors and nurses have been wearing those cheap masks long before there was a COVID-19 virus. Why? To protect their patients.

Remember this slogan:


Every elevator building should mandate masks and give out free ones, and those who violate should be prevented from entering.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..


The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Social Security for all or a reverse income tax

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10.Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.


3 thoughts on “The elevator problem in a COVID-19 world.

  1. –Face the wall or stand in a corner just like a little kid getting punished. Try to imagine that in an elevator full of well dressed adults. Oh you bad bad people.
    –One-directional stairs, Only going Down. The trip upwards would kill half the population before they got to the top.


  2. Rodger, you really need to be more careful about attributing authorship at Naked Capitalism.

    Jerri-Lynn Scofield did not write the elevator post. It was written by Lauren Weber, a Midwest correspondent, and was cross-posted from Kaiser Health News.

    The top byline (Posted on…by…) is the person who works at NC who put up the post and they may or may not be the author of the post itself. You have to look at the beginning of the article to see who wrote it.


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