The New York Times and Washington Post have now come round to a position I advocated for here on Medium final week: We must always all be wearing masks. Not just health care workers, but ALL of us. Every time we go out in public.
Because they work.
Research from the SARS outbreak in 2003 shows that washing arms 10+ occasions day by day was 55% efficient in stopping virus transmission; wearing a masks was actually more efficient, reducing transmission by about sixty eight%.
Combining multiple types of protection — hand washing, mask wearing, gloves, and another layer of outerwear (gowning) — was ninety one% effective.
Read that again: 91% effective at stopping virus transmission.
COVID-19 and SARS are similar types of viruses (coronaviruses), and it is smart that what works to cease transmission for one will work to stop transmission of the other.
Masks work, first, because they’re a physical barrier to no matter’s driving along on that air you’re breathing or moving through. Right here’s a chart showing the relative barrier effectiveness for various materials:
Secondly, they work because they preserve you from touching your face all day long. The masks makes you more self-conscious of the fact that you’re not supposed to touch your face- specifically, your mouth, nostril, and eyes, and the areas round them- and when you by chance do, you’ll touch the masks, not your skin directly.
Third, the expertise of different countries who masks show that masks work within the real world. Within the words of Jeremy Howard, researcher and Masks4All activist, explaining a chart in his latest Youtube video showing how some countries have successfully “flattened the curve” on new infections: “Should you take a look at all of the international locations which have flat curves, they’re countries where mask-wearing is extremely normal, and NOT wearing a mask in places like public transport can be considered anti-social.” He notes that the Czech Republic went from zero masks usage to a hundred% in 10 days, and in the process they halted the expansion of new covid-19 cases. The Czechs made their own masks- the government didn’t give them out.
Should you nonetheless should be persuaded, take a look at this Chinese research of an area outbreak case on January 22 throughout the peak Lunar New Year journey season. A sick person on the bus who did not work together with anyone spread the virus to 7 others, a few of whom were seated a lot more than 6 ft away. Two new passengers caught the virus half-hour after the original sick individual had left the bus. NONE OF THE PEOPLE WEARING MASKS WERE INFECTED. Read the article, it’s very detailed, with a schematic of exactly where individuals had been sitting on the bus.
So let’s say you’re convinced, and now you’re thinking of some sort of face covering. What are your options?
First, please don’t purchase masks commercially, if by some miracle you could find them now. Commercially made PPE needs to be reserved for medical personnel at this time. Unfortunately, the shortage of commercially made PPE, and the lack of foresight that caused us to be in such a place of scarcity, is probably why we initially got this messaging of “Masks don’t work!” They do, of us just didn’t need you to understand it for a while, to keep away from a run on masks. Think of the empty cabinets in supermarkets across America where toilet paper used to live, and also you understand why.
The simplest thing you can do to masks NOW are to use supplies across the house. Get creative; anything that covers the mouth and nostril and stays in place will work.
While it’s finest if the mask matches well and there aren’t any gaps between your face and the outside air, don’t surrender in your homemade masks for those who can’t achieve that. Any face covering will hold you from touching the skin around your nostril and mouth directly, which may develop into an important mechanism by which masks block virus transmission. If you happen to inadvertently contact your face while you’re wearing a mask, you’ll just contact the mask, not your skin.
You may try to shape your face covering utilizing pipe cleaners or opened-up rubber-coated paper clips in the part that goes over your nostril to make a tighter match — experiment. The most important thing is that you simply wash your arms, put in your face covering, and exit of the house protected.
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