Thursday, March 19, 2020

Shopping in Coronavirus Days -- Buying Half-Face Respirator Masks

I spent my lunch hour yesterday virtually elbowing shoppers online in an effort to secure half-face respirator masks for myself, my wife, and two stepdaughters (ages 12 and 15). There are so many online retailers that are sold out of those items, but I was able to secure four quality half-face respirator masks with multiple replacement N99 filters and valves. All of the inexpensive surgical masks were sold out, as were many half-face respirator masks. However, I was able to purchase quality half-face respirator masks that can be reused simply by changing out the filters and valves. Like my wife said, "It is never a bad idea to have protection of any kind, whether we ever use it or not. It will be nice knowing we have something to protect us in case situations prove we need it."

The world is in uncharted territory with COVID-19. It seems like every day we're seeing a greater impact due to Coronavirus. As a responsible adult and stepfather, I ordered what was needed and the half-face respirator masks will be delivered before the end of the month. We may not need them, but it's like the old boy scout motto says: "BE PREPARED!"

The National Personal Protective Technology Laboratory states that the N99 particulate filtering facepiece respirator can filter at least 99% of airborne particles and an N95 or N99 is the most effective when it comes to the Coronavirus -- so I purchased N99 half-face respirator masks. Now, before you start jumping up and down yelling at this blog in rebuke with words that I shouldn't have purchased these because only people who actually have the virus should wear them, I'll just say that when it comes to my family I'd rather be safe than sorry.

It is true that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the general public should not use face masks to protect themselves from Coronavirus, but rather only those who are exhibiting symptoms should wear masks in order to protect others. In fact, the CDC's online page regarding COVID-19 treatment and prevention states: "CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19." Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration states: "For the general American public, there is no added health benefit to wear a respiratory protective device." I wonder if there are any CDC or FDA employees and/or their family members who own such masks -- or have worn them as a preventive measure against the Coronavirus. Regardless, if either myself, my wife, or my two youngest stepdaughters begin to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms, at least I'll have masks at hand. Again, when it comes to taking care of my family... I'd rather be safe than sorry.

It is interesting to note that The World Health Organization declared Europe as the new epicenter of the global Coronavirus pandemic and in Europe there are news reports stating that "Masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of Coronavirus, and some studies have estimated a roughly fivefold protection versus no barrier alone." Keep in mind that places like Hong Kong and Taiwan -- that took action early with social distancing and universal mask wearing (when being outside of home) -- have the pandemic under much greater control. Hong Kong health officials credit universal mask wearing as part of the solution and recommend universal mask wearing. Dr. Pak-Leung Ho, head of the Center for Infection at Hong Kong University Medical Facility, believes that vigilance on the part of Hong Kong residents is one reason why COVID-19 didn't skyrocket like it did in Iran and Italy. He highlighted universal mask-wearing as one of the reasons widespread outbreak didn't occur in Hong Kong.

To date, Hong Kong, which is home to more than 7 million people, has fewer than 170 Coronavirus cases and four deaths, while other countries and cities have reported hundreds, even thousands, of infections. Also, of the last 57 confirmed cases in Hong Kong, 50 were imported rather than from local spread. Perhaps Americans should really take a hard look at how Hong Kong handled it, including universal mask-wearing.

When it comes to purchasing face masks in these days of COVID-19, make whatever decision you deem is best for you, your family and others. That's what I've done.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso