Full Guide to Wearing Face Masks

The New York Times and Washington Post have now come around to a position I advocated for here on Medium final week: We should always all be wearing masks. Not just health care workers, but ALL of us. Whenever we exit in public.


Because they work.

Research from the SARS outbreak in 2003 shows that washing hands 10+ times daily was 55% effective in stopping virus transmission; wearing a masks was really more effective, reducing transmission by about sixty eight%.

Combining multiple forms of protection — hand washing, mask wearing, gloves, and one other layer of outerwear (gowning) — was 91% effective.

Read that again: ninety one% effective at stopping virus transmission.

COVID-19 and SARS are similar types of viruses (coronaviruses), and it is sensible that what works to cease transmission for one will work to cease transmission of the other.

Masks work, first, because they’re a physical barrier to whatever’s riding 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-aware of the fact that you’re not supposed to the touch your face- specifically, your mouth, nostril, and eyes, and the areas round them- and for those who by accident do, you’ll contact the masks, not your skin directly.

Third, the experience of other nations who mask show that masks work within the real world. Within the words of Jeremy Howard, researcher and Masks4All activist, explaining a chart in his recent Youtube video showing how some nations have successfully “flattened the curve” on new infections: “For those who look at all the countries which have flat curves, they’re nations the place masks-wearing is extraordinarily 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 mask usage to one hundred% in 10 days, and within the process they halted the expansion of new covid-19 cases. The Czechs made their own masks- the federal government didn’t give them out.

Should you nonetheless have to be persuaded, take a look at this Chinese study of an area outbreak case on January 22 in the course of the peak Lunar New Year journey season. A sick person on the bus who did not interact with anyone spread the virus to 7 others, a few of whom have been seated much more than 6 ft away. Two new passengers caught the virus 30 minutes after the unique sick particular person had left the bus. NONE OF THE PEOPLE WEARING MASKS WERE INFECTED. Read the article, it’s very detailed, with a schematic of precisely where folks were sitting on the bus.

So let’s say you’re satisfied, 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 may find them now. Commercially made PPE needs to be reserved for medical personnel at this time. Sadly, the scarcity of commercially made PPE, and the shortage of foresight that caused us to be in such a position of shortage, is probably why we initially acquired this messaging of “Masks don’t work!” They do, of us just didn’t want you to realize it for a while, to avoid a run on masks. Think of the empty shelves in supermarkets throughout America the place toilet paper used to live, and you perceive why.

The best thing you are able to do to mask NOW are to use materials around the house. Get inventive; anything that covers the mouth and nostril and stays in place will work.

While it’s best if the mask matches well and there aren’t any gaps between your face and the outside air, don’t give up in your homemade masks in the event you can’t achieve that. Any face covering will maintain you from touching the skin round your nose and mouth directly, which could transform an important mechanism by which masks block virus transmission. Should you inadvertently touch your face while you’re wearing a masks, you’ll just touch the mask, not your skin.

You possibly can try to shape your face covering utilizing pipe cleaners or opened-up rubber-coated paper clips within the half that goes over your nose to make a tighter fit — experiment. An important thing is that you just wash your palms, put in your face covering, and exit of the house protected.

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