Commentary / Coronavirus

Public Being Misled About Masks

maskNew York, New Jersey, Maryland and other states are requiring everyone to wear a mask or a substitute face covering to leave home. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has suddenly flipped from urging the public not to wear masks to recommending that they wear something that covers their nose and mouth.

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% to 3% effective. It’s misleading.

From Day One of the coronavirus outbreak, the public has gotten the run around about masks. Government officials need to be honest about what works and what doesn’t. Here’s the scientific evidence:

N95 masks, which are molded and fit tight to the face, filter out 95% of viral particles, even the smallest ones. These masks offer the best protection, but they are in short supply, and public officials want them reserved for health care workers on the front lines.

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% of viral droplets emitted by an infected person nearby, according to research in the British Medical Journal.

Not so woven cloth masks. They allow in 97% of viral particles. That means almost no protection for the wearer.

Wearing a homemade cotton mask is a false assurance, explains epidemiologist May Chu. She says it will block only about 2% of airflow. Similarly, a study in Disaster Medical and Public Health Preparedness concludes that a homemade mask should be considered “only as a last resort,” better than no protection at all but not a lot better.

Surgical masks seem available in stores now, and if you can buy a supply, using them is far preferable to making your own. Don’t 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% of viral droplets, compared with the 2% blocked with a single layer, according to a study in Aerosol and Air Quality Research.

Why are public officials suddenly urging mask use, many weeks after the coronavirus struck? Because of mounting research pointing to the huge role of asymptomatic people spreading the disease before they feel ill. Whenever these asymptomatic carriers talk or simply exhale, they spread very small droplets of virus-laden saliva and respiratory mucous in the air. Scientists call it bioaerosols.

Getting everyone to mask up does double duty – helping to protect the uninfected and keeping the unknowingly infected from spreading the virus. As New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, announcing the mask mandate: “You don’t have a right to infect me.”

That makes sense, but Americans have had to put up with a lot of message confusion from the outset, and now they’re getting misleading advice about homemade masks.

What’s the root problem? 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.

Don’t blame any president, Democratic or Republican, for this oversight. The career officials at Health and Human Services knowingly allowed the nation to be undersupplied. They never requested enough money to adequately stock the Strategic National Stockpile. Their agenda was global, tracking down polio in Pakistan, pouring nearly $5 billion in the fight against Ebola overseas and funding a Global Health Security Agenda serving 49 countries. But no masks for Americans.

When the coronavirus struck, the CDC offered only mask double talk. The agency said, on the one hand, masks are vital to protect health care workers, and on the other hand, masks won’t make the public safer. It defies common sense. The agency should have leveled with people, admitting supplies had to be saved for front line caregivers.

The coronavirus could return next winter. Or another viral pandemic could strike from any part of the globe. The bill Congress enacted in late March allocates $16 billion to the Strategic National Stockpile, nearly 30 times its annual budget. Next time, the U.S. will have enough masks.

Reprinted with Permission from - Center for Individual Freedom by - Betsy McCaughey

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3 years ago

Masks have become a “fashionable accessory” and for most, have no clue as to how effective the mask is in dealing with the virus. Follow the money. Every one is in the mask business!

G Schalk
3 years ago
Reply to  PTY

And now it is “fashionable” to dress and look like gangsters. Just wait till they start acting like thus, and no camera can ID them.

3 years ago

The other issue that is NOT mentioned anywhere is how long are these masks good for? I was taught in nursing school 15 minutes before they became damp on the inside and started allowing particles inside. We were told to change them after 15 minutes. They also aren’t talking about essential oil blends which are also highly effective in prevention.

3 years ago

There has never been a cure for coronaviruses. If there were we wouldn’t have the common cold or any flu. The media and government should stop their scare tactics! And by the way, there’s no cure for death either. That ratio is 1:1.

3 years ago

It wasn’t mask double talk. No one was even thinking double protection, we were all thinking how do I protect myself from those infected. We were considering how to protect those diagnosed from infecting us but we were not thinking that we needed to protect those infected but not diagnosed or not showing symptom from infecting us. It wasn’t until we “thought” this was droplet spread instead of a aerosol spread that this came to light. We were getting the best advise based on the information we had. When new information came out new guidance was issued. Unfortunately people are having trouble understanding the concept. I wear the mask to protect you from me. If I am infected and not yet having symptoms or infected and asymptomatic but contagious wearing a mask may help you from getting exposed and infected from me. We have estimated 100s of thousands of people who have are infected but not yet showing symptoms or who are infected and asymptomatic but contagious. So if we all wear mask when social isolation is not being accomplished we may be able to keep from being exposed. Until we get effective treatment or a vaccine it’s the best choice on the table. Wear the mask when you leave the house.

3 years ago
Reply to  LTC S

Right?! How long is that mask effective?? There is NO information on that issue other than what I was taught in nursing school. There is also no information regarding essential oils and they do work. Last time I checked we live in a free country (for how much longer is negiotiable). I do not take vaccines and I won’t go into the reasons. Suffice to say I have good valid research to support my view. I just wish folks realized with a strong immune system the changes of getting really sick if truly minimal.

Kenneth Hoffman
3 years ago

PA governor T. Wolfe keeps getting caught “fudging” the numbers for deceased from Wuhan Virus. Adding people, of course! We were embarrassed at the Giant Eagle grocery store because my wife’s “useless” scarf slipped down off of her nose!! You CANNOT purchase a “real” mask / muzzle anywhere in the Pittsburgh area.

3 years ago

So now that we have been through ( or are going through ) this debacle, what are we going to do about it ?
Any ideas ?

3 years ago

Lets keep the rest of the world healthy before we worried about lowly US citizens. Lets send all of our preventative
materials off shore and at the same time have all of our medications made off shore. After all, we’re last. And while we’re
at it, lets shut any remaining US businesses and give these jobs to China. Thats the ticket. Thank god for the swamp.
Lets make the US last in everything.

Pat Koren
3 years ago

If you are not sneezing or coughing how are you spreading water droplets?

3 years ago
Reply to  Pat Koren

You’re breathing and exhalation produces droplets, not the way a sneeze or a cough does, but droplets nonetheless.

3 years ago
Reply to  Pat Koren

Just breathing will do it.

3 years ago
Reply to  SueK

Merely breathing projects an aerosolized cloud at least 7 feet out in all directions, a sneeze propels out over 22 feet.

Charles Ellison
3 years ago
Reply to  Pat Koren

Every time you breathe you exhale droplets , even if they are subminiature droplets. These droplets will float in the air for up to 3 seconds. All one has to do is walk through the same path to inhale the same droplets. To give you a better idea, if the droplets contained onion, garlic or alcohol, you would be able to smell the odor. The odor is carried in the droplets. In fact all odors are droplets.

Word of Truth
3 years ago

All odors are not droplets. For example, if you are standing next to someone with BO they are not flinging off droplets. It’s simply certain compounds equilibrating with the surrounding air.

3 years ago
Reply to  Pat Koren

You spread bioairosols by talking, laughing, and breathing.

gordon burrows
3 years ago

Info on masks much needed . Thank you. Keep up the flow of good info.
God bless ya’ll

anna hubert
3 years ago

Public has been mislead for decades into believing that there is a cure for everything including death and lapped it up now it demands that president delivers them from flu

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