I don’t know about you, but several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing has become very clear to me.
Whatever side of the aisle you’re on, we should be able to agree that this crisis has been mishandled in just about every way imaginable. And I have questions for anyone who still thinks that the continued lack of Federal response is anything short of reprehensible.
Like this one, for starters: Are you prepared to keep riding this runaway train while every other wealthy nation in the world has things under control? Because let’s be clear—that’s exactly what you’re being asked to do.
How about this: Are you willing to keep your kids and grandkids out of school just so a bunch of people can resume “normal” pre-pandemic activities, like eating out at a restaurant or getting drunk at a bar?
Because in the midst of all this noise about re-opening non-essential businesses, we still haven’t talked seriously about what parents and children can expect in the fall. (Oh, and call me crazy, but maybe ensuring that we have a safe election might be a good thing to prioritize, too?)
These are all very basic considerations in the effort to manage the fallout from this pandemic. But what is perhaps the most basic—and the one way we can join the ranks of every other civilized nation in this fight?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Wear a mask!
Willful ignorance at work
It pains me to see this simple mandate being ignored. It pains me to witness people believing non-scientists when it comes to their health. And it pains me to see the President of the United States setting an example of contempt for standard medical procedure.
But, hey, the blood isn’t on my hands. Because you know exactly where I stand on this subject. I wrote about why it’s so important to wear a mask just a few weeks ago.
I didn’t compare the merits of different face coverings, or explore the specific protections that they offer to you and others, though. So today, I’d like to explore the topic a little further. And share some recent research that can help guide the way.
Because as you may have already noticed, there aren’t any specific guidelines for the materials or designs of face masks. The goal, simply, is to block transmission of COVID-19—which is spread through droplets while talking, coughing, or sneezing.
But we have learned a few things over the course of this pandemic—and we’d be wise to heed that information accordingly.
Anything is better than nothing
Recently, researchers took to the lab using mannequins to simulate and visualize how the virus is expelled during coughing and sneezing. They tested the efficacy of basic, readily available masks. (Not the medical-grade masks and respirators reserved for healthcare workers.)
Among these was a single-layer bandana-style mask, a homemade stitched mask that used two layers of 70-thread-per-inch cotton fabric, and a non-sterile cone-style mask that you can find at most drug stores.
Not surprisingly, the loosely folded and bandana-style face covers did the least to stop the spread of the smallest droplets—while well-fitted and layered homemade masks and off-the-shelf drug store masks performed best.
But the real takeaway here is that any covering was better than no covering.
Case in point: Uncovered coughs sent droplets way farther than six feet (which is the currently recommended social distance recommendation). In fact, without a mask, droplets were able to travel twice as far—up to 12 feet, within less than a minute.
With a bandana, that distance dropped to three feet and seven inches. With a folded cotton handkerchief, it dropped to one foot and three inches. A cone-style mask restricted droplet spread to eight inches. And with a stitched and quilted cotton mask, the droplets only made it two and a half inches.
Now… wouldn’t you say this is information worth sharing? I certainly would. Especially since I see no end in sight to this pandemic—at least, not here in the U.S.
Once again, this concept is not unique to coronavirus. The common cold and flu both transmit via droplets from coughing and sneezing—even talking or breathing. That’s just how respiratory viruses work.
It’s also why I couldn’t be more baffled by the lack of consistent messaging about mask wearing in this country. This virus might be novel, but the way it spreads surely isn’t.
So in case I wasn’t clear enough before, let me say it one more time: If you don’t wear a mask in public, you are endangering yourself and everyone around you—and not least of all, the future health and security of this nation.
That’s not patriotism. It’s stubborn selfishness, pure and simple.
P.S. For additional ways to boost your immune system in the age of coronavirus—and all year—check out my Complete Guide to Year-Round Immunity. This special report outlines all of my top immune health recommendations. Click here to learn more!
“Seeing is believing: Effectiveness of facemasks: Researchers use flow visualization to qualitatively test facemasks and social distancing.” Science Daily, 06/30/2020. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200630111449.htm)