During the COVID Pandemic, New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new signature look is a western-style bandana pulled up over his mouth and nose. No doubt he’s well-intentioned. But that kind of face-covering is only a hair better than no covering at all. Science shows it’s a mere 2 percent to 3 percent effective. It’s misleading.
N95 masks, which are molded and fit tight to the face, filter out 95 percent of viral particles, even the smallest ones. These masks offer the best protection, but when in short supply, public officials want them reserved for health care workers on the front lines, so they recommend the public NOT wear them. Again, it’s misleading.
Surgical masks, the kind you see commonly worn in hospitals and dentists’ offices, are flat and held to the face with elastic. They’re made from a nonwoven material, polypropylene, that is a somewhat effective filter. They protect the wearer from about 56 percent of viral droplets emitted by an infected person nearby, according to research in the British Medical Journal.
Do NOT reuse the mask and avoid touching the outside of the mask, because it’s likely contaminated after use.
If you have to resort to homemade barriers, keep in mind that the more layers of cloth, the better the protection. Four layers likely block out 13 percent of viral droplets, compared with the 2 percent blocked with a single layer, according to a study in Aerosol and Air Quality Research.
Getting everyone to mask up helps to protect the uninfected, and keeps the unknowingly infected from spreading the virus.
What’s was the root problem during the COVID Pandemic? Year after year after year, through three presidencies, federal health bureaucrats ignored warnings about inadequate supplies of masks and other equipment in the event of a pandemic. Ten federal reports sounded the alarm, even as the nation witnessed SARS, MERS, avian flu and swine flu that circled the globe. In 2009, during the swine flu outbreak, the federal Strategic National Stockpile dispersed 85 million N95 masks, as well as other protective masks. The masks were never replaced afterward.
Remember our Pandemic Lessons Learned: You cannot depend on the government and must take responsibility for the safety and security of you and your family.
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