Mask Protection

Health Care Ideas and Issues Podcasts

November 27, 2020

Pearl River     There’s a huge back and forth among the American masses about mask protection from Covid-19. Support, according to surveys, for mass masking has continued to rise, despite resistance in the White House. We’re certainly going to see something approaching a national mandate or call for mass making with a new administration, but we’ve got a long way to go.

A lot of our brothers and sisters are at best flying half-masked. Many seem to believe that the mask is something similar to a chin guard, but I’m unclear what kind of helmet it’s holding up? Others seem to think it’s a fashion statement showcasing the much under highlighted nose as a facial feature. Friends, if it breathes in and out, rather your beautiful nose or your massive mouth, it lets the virus in and out with peril to you and your neighbors.

I talked to Dine Butler, coordinator of Last Mile NOLA-PPE and deputy area director for CORE Response, a testing delivery site, on Wade’s World to try to get the skinny on masks, and it was an education.  First off, be clear, masks protect you, not just your community according to all of the research now, more than eight months into the pandemic. That’s good news, but not just any mask will do the trick. A single layer cloth mask or bandanna seems to be mainly a fashion statement, rather than a public health practice. Simply put, you need to double up, at the least.

Butler was nice about it, but it was clear she was take-no-prisoners on mask handling. She argued that you need to wash your masks daily or you are just creating a storage container for Covid. She recommends wearing a disposable surgical mask over your main mask, so you can throw that away after work or the end of your day, and wash or wear your cloth mask. If you’ve heard about the value of N-95 masks, it’s all true, but they are in woefully short supply and really reserved now for healthcare and other vital workers, except of course if you’re a millionaire in which case, can you spare a mask, brother? KN-95’s are more available and they are worth protecting with your cover mask.

Face shields for the robot, star trek fans, just don’t get it. Butler gave the example of walking into a smoke-filled room. If you had on your face shield, you would still smell and breathe in the smoke, so same-same, they won’t protect you from Covid. Having flown recently, I can tell you that everyone in the airport requires you to have a mask under the shield, so what’s the point of the shield I wonder, unless you’re doing dental work or something with a lot of spray.

I asked Butler if mass masking is likely to permanent. She wouldn’t go there, long term, but she predicted this would be a major fashion and public health statement for the next year or two. In Japan or Korea, it is common to see masks on people in crowded settings and on public transportation. We’re going there now, and it’s likely we’ll all have masks handy for the rest of our lives. Now that we’re learning to be prepared, there’s really no going back.