Face Mask Update
June 16, 2020
A new study shows that widespread use of face masks could push transmission of the virus to a manageable level and prevent a “second wave” of infections. Researchers found that wearing a face mask in public at all times is twice as effective in curbing the spread of the virus as wearing a mask only after symptoms appear. The study's authors wrote: “These analyses may explain why some countries, where adoption of face mask use by the public is around 100%, have experienced significantly lower rates of covid-19 spread and associated deaths.”
I thought this question and answer from the Washington Post last week offered helpful information about mask wearing.
“Are masks effective if people are leaving their noses exposed but covering their mouths? It’s my understanding that leaving the nose exposed renders the mask useless, but that's what I see more often than not.” — Pat in Maryland
You’re right on both counts: It’s becoming more common to see people out in public with their masks only halfway on, and doing so undermines the purpose of wearing one.
It reminds me that when the federal government was still deciding whether to recommend masks in public, one of the arguments against doing so was that people would wear them improperly and develop a false sense of security. That appears to be happening, just based on all the exposed noses and loose-fitting bandannas I’ve seen since my neighborhood retail strip started to reopen.
So, a reminder: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and pretty much every medical professional who has weighed in on the matter says your mask needs to fit snugly around both your nose and mouth, and tuck under your chin.…The point of a mask is to filter your air through fabric or some other medium to catch respiratory particles that can carry the coronavirus. (The New York Times has a good visual simulation of how these droplets can spray several feet.) Infected droplets can pass through both your nose and mouth, so you need to cover them, and make sure the fabric fits tightly around your cheeks and chin so air can’t escape through the gaps.
Also, keep in mind that even a properly fitted cloth mask might let particles through, though it’s believed to reduce the chances. So, you should keep your distance from others.
Covid-19 the Teacher
The rapid-fire events over the past two weeks have been mind boggling for Lori and me, and I am quite sure we aren’t alone. When I last wrote, I shared an important lesson from COVID-19: by taking care of others, we take care of ourselves. The murder of George Floyd and the rage it has brought forth in people of color, have arisen because of a long history of institutionalized exploitation and neglect, extreme forms of not caring. You may be bewildered or angered by all of this. You may be wondering how you can help. Learning and action are ways to resolve these normal and expected feelings. I hear people of color asking white people to learn about this history and share it within their sphere of influence--family, friends, colleagues and faith community members. The Kansas City Missouri Public Library has assembled a reading list of books and recent articles. Search the internet for “White Awareness Reading List” for others. I also hear people of color asking for financial support. I have supported the Grassroots Law Project whose efforts have been key to bringing justice to Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. The Kansas City Bail Fund needs support and also recommends other local organizations.
To your health!
Bethany Klug, DO