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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Two Must-Read Stories on COVID-19

Here are two well-researched articles about COVID-19, the threat it poses, and why we must all, collectively, around the world, take action now to prevent a serious health catastrophe. The first article is the one that convinced me to stay at home. The second shows what we may be in for, depending on the actions that we take or do not take.

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now

Coronavirus: The Hammer and the Dance


Jeff Shyluk said...

I don't share the author's views on masks, but it really depends on how much you know on how to use them. If you are using a mask wrong, it may not be as effective as you assume it is, and it may even cause you to become more infected.

The only respirator mask capable of stopping the virus is the N95 mask, so-called because it blocks at least 95% of particles 0.3 microns in diameter: viruses like COVID-19 are larger than that. It is critical that the mask is fit tightly to the face. Beardsmen like you and I cannot wear an N95 as human hair is around 50 microns in diameter. If you were a virus crossing a gap caused by a human hair, it would be like a single person walking across the length of BC Place stadium. N95 masks also have a limited shelf-life and should not be recharged or re-used, as doing so will ruin the integrity of the blocker material.

Common surgical masks provide no strong barrier to a virus. What they do is prevent droplets from others entering the facial area but more importantly, they prevent droplets from escaping the face of the wearer. It's more important to wear one if you are trying not to infect someone, rather than the other way around.

Adjusting an uncomfortable mask means you are touching your face. If you adjust your mask more than you would touch your face under ordinary circumstances, there's no point in wearing the mask: you're infecting the cloth that is next to your skin. COVID-19 can last for hours on plastic and cloth surfaces.

The best prevention is to wash frequently with soap and water, and to disinfect hard surfaces that you commonly touch, like keyboards, phones, light switches, and door knobs. Keeping your distance from people is easy if you tend to speak in puns, in the manner of famous reclusive Hollywood director Quentin Quarantino. Nobody hugs a punster.

Jeff Shyluk said...

Futher reading on masks sent me to manufacturer's websites. There are three basic grades of surgical masks (non-N95). There's a top grade which are expected to be worn by surgical staff in surgery. There's a mid grade which goes to medical practitioners, and a low grade which is sold to the public. The material of the mask doesn't vary a whole lot, but the mechanism for fitting and the quality of fit does.

A high-end mask has fasteners that make certain the mask has a snug fit. It's not the most comfortable, and it should only be used once per session such as the duration of a single operation. A mid-grade mask will have ties or fasteners, and should be worn once per patient. A low grade mask will have loose ties or an elastic for comfort. I could be worn all day, but since its efficiency is so low, it's usually not worth the bother.

The American CDC is relaxing rules for the length of time a mask should be worn, due to a critical shortage of masks. I seen no good reason for the most of the public to wear masks when front-line healthcare professionals have to re-use, recharge, or recycle theirs. Considering that hospitals are collection areas for people who are infected, it makes real sense to me that this is the priority location for new masks. The process of recharging or recycling a mask greatly degrades its ability to protect the wearer. At some point soon, a recycled mask will simply have cosmetic value only.