Wednesday, April 1, 2020

To Mask or Not to Mask? That is the Question Soon to be Answered!

Just as COVID-19 started to impact the United States, I decided to purchase high-quality N99 half-face respirator masks with multiple replacement filters and valves for my wife, my two youngest stepdaughters, and myself. The mask protects against 99 percent of airborne particles. We now have those in hand at a time when all sources for obtaining such masks have none left. My motivation in buying the masks was quite focused -- to protect the people in our household.

The Coronavirus is continuing to spread globally. Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is considering whether or not to ask Americans to wear a mask when out in public. Some U.S. doctors have long urged people to wear masks. According to the CDC director, as many as 25 percent of people infected with the Coronavirus may not show symptoms.

The U.S. has the most Coronavirus infections in the world, and last night the total number of deaths in America as a result of COVID-19 topped 4,000. The U.S. has now surpassed China by over 700 Coronavirus fatalities — as the White House Coronavirus Task Force said it projects 100,000 to 240,000 deaths of Americans from the virus and millions infected in the country. The UN secretary-general warned that the pandemic is the most challenging crisis the world faces since World War 2.

The CDC is debating whether to formally encourage all people to cover their face when out in public. I believe this should be the case. The Washington Post is reporting that if the CDC adopts the change, it would tell people to fashion their own face covers with cloth to free up surgical masks and N95 masks for medics and health workers.

The lack of mask wearing by the U.S. general public is quite contrary to what several other countries are doing. For instance, masks are mandatory for anyone entering a supermarket in Austria, and required for anyone leaving their house in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In Asia, masks are both shields and symbols. They're an affirmation of civic-mindedness and conscientiousness. The outbreak started in China and that country has seen a decrease in large numbers of new Coronavirus cases. George Gao, the director-general of China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was recently asked by Science magazine which mistakes other countries were making in their response to the virus, and he pointed to guidance around masks. "The big mistake in the US and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren't wearing masks," Gao said. "This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role — you've got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others."

In recent days, several scientists, health experts, and influencers have vigorously asserted that everyone venturing into public or crowded places should wear a mask or face shield (even a homemade one) to lower the rate of transmission of the Coronavirus. Even the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security said in an interview that the CDC should urge people to use non-medical masks or face coverings.

We'll have to wait and see what the U.S. CDC says regarding the general public wearing face masks. The members of our household are equipped and we'll continue to follow the guidelines of social distancing, hand washing, and more.

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso