I’m going to use today’s diary entry to attempt to combat some rapidly spreading mis-information that I consider potentially dangerous to people. Let’s talk about masks.
Right now there seems to be a growing number of people who are of the belief that wearing masks will make a significant difference in how likely you are to be infected with COVID-19. The movement is being spread largely by people who I’m sure have good intentions, and people who have grown up in a pro-mask wearing culture. Regardless of their reason, this push can be potentially dangerous.
First let’s look at what the World Health Organization says about when you should wear a mask, with respect to COVID-19 (Click here):
- If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.
- Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
- Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
Even the Fraser Health Authority says that N95 masks do not always need to be worn when working with COVID-19 patients (Click here):
“Do I need to wear an N95 mask with all COVID-19 patients?”
– No. Infection Prevention and Control guidelines for COVID-19 cases (contact & droplet) were noted on March 14, 2020. N95 masks are ONLY required if patients require aerosolizing procedures. Please reserve them for appropriate use to ensure that they are available when we need them.
The above gives you a lot of reasons why you don’t need to wear a mask. But I would like to take this one step further, and explain why wearing a mask in some cases is actually potentially harmful:
- Wearing a mask makes you more likely to touch your face, which is one of the ways you can spread the virus to yourself.
- Breathing leads to moisture and a moist mask is a compromised mask. The longer you wear a mask, the less effective it is, and the more likely it could lead to infection rather than prevent it
- Masks are needed by our health care workers and could save their lives, and the lives of others in this pandemic. Buying medical masks that are in short supply, especially N95 masks, to use in situations where they aren’t needed is depleting the finite number of masks available to these essential workers, and should only been done when necessary.
Please remember the following:
- COVID-19 is not airborne, but it can be aerosolized through sneezes and coughes in rare situations. Keeping proper physical distancing at a minimum of 2m will be more effective at protecting you than than even a properly worn dry mask.
- Masks save lives, but they are a finite resource right now. Do your part by leaving them for the professionals. It could literally save a life.
- Cough and sneeze into your arm or shirt. This could also literally save someone’s life
- It’s easy to find singular experts who will say something like “garlic will protect you” or “wear masks all the time” or “vaccination is bad”, always look to what the scientific consensus is.
Here’s another good link on how to protect yourself during the pandemic, courtesy of the World Health Organization (Click here).
And finally, don’t listen to ME on this. I’m just a keyboard jockey trying to survive a pandemic. Listen to what the scientific community is saying. If you need to point to a single doctor standing against the rest, it’s probably a bad sign. Dr. Bonnie Henry is pretty amazing at what she does, but she’s also agreeing with what scientists all over the world are saying. If she was recommending things that went completely against scientific data and consensus, she’d probably be employed by a certain US president. It’s important to be critical without seeking out conspiracy theories.
And now some good news! Italy is beginning to flatten their curve! It’s been about 3 weeks since Italy instituted a lock down and mandated physical isolation, and over the last week we’ve seen a distinctive flattening of their new cases! Check out the image below!