Currently, the United States is leading the world on COVID19 transmission and subsequent mortality rates to a tune of 1.47 million infected and almost 90,000 dead. The numbers are starting to wane, but it is not “Magical thinking or from warm weather.” It is because of many people (medical and non-medical) are working hard to social distance, wear masks, stay home and wash their hands better. Unfortunately, this flattening delta comes with a cost. Almost 25% of the country is unemployed or underemployed, because of stay at home orders.
Anxiety and other mental health conditions are on the rise. Many normally even-headed thinkers have become more irrational than ever before. Conspiracy theories are now on the rise and every where on social media. Non-medical personnel in the federal government and on social media have now claimed to become “subject-matter-experts” on everything COVID-19.
The latest conspiracy theory is all about the masks and social distancing. Many (even medical personnel) are questioning whether or not masks actually help the wearer from getting a virus. Many have actually even stated, “mask don’t work in protecting the wearer from COVID-19.” These same individuals then go on to talk about #fakenews or #biasedmedia. Apparently, COVID -19 is a made up virus to hurt one political party over another. Yes.
The world is apparently in on this and thst is why Great Britain and Brazil are now self quarantining to hurt American politicians Really? According to John Hopkins, the US is at a 6% death rate. That is reality. This country has more in common with Iran or Caribbean nations, then Germany (4% death rate per 100,000).
Well, let’s just talk about the mask. Masks are respiratory protection devices that are used to protect the wearers from inhaling particles suspended in the air. Filtering face piece respirators are usually tested utilizing nonbiologic particles, whereas their use often aims at reducing exposure to biologic aerosols, including infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria, per the CDC and WHO.
Can face masks help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)? According to the CDC, they did not know anything about the novel Coronavirus when it appeared worldwide in January 2020. Because of this, they didn’t yet know the extent to which people with COVID-19 could spread the virus before symptoms appeared. Nor was it known that some people have COVID-19 but don’t have any symptoms. Both groups can unknowingly spread the virus to others. Was it aerosolized or spread via droplets, secretions, Oral / fecal or some form of all of the above? That is why the World Health Organization was slow to push for mask wear alone. In reality, you need to combine mask wear with social distancing, and hand washing to really slow the disease. This has been seen to work. The reason that Asian countries had better numbers of mortality (for the most part) was their willingness to wear masks. Westerners have what seems to be a “mask phobia.” Americans are worse than most about this. It does seem to also follow political lines as well. This shouldn’t be the case, but has been. Further research and subsequent discoveries on COVID-19 have led the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to do an about-face on face masks. The CDC has updated its guidance to recommend widespread use of simple cloth face coverings to help prevent transmission of COVID-19 by people who have the virus but don’t know it.
Some public health groups argue that masks should be reserved for health care providers and point to the critical shortage of surgical masks and N95 masks.
How do the different types of masks work?
Also called a medical mask, a surgical mask is a loose-fitting disposable mask that protects the wearer’s nose and mouth from contact with droplets, splashes and sprays that may contain germs. A surgical mask also filters out large particles in the air. Surgical masks may protect others by reducing exposure to the saliva and respiratory secretions of the mask wearer. At this time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved any type of surgical mask specifically for protection against the COVID-19 virus, but these masks may provide some protection when N95 masks are not available.
Actually a type of respirator, an N95 mask offers more protection than a surgical mask does because it can filter out both large and small particles. The name indicates that the mask is designed to block 95% of very small particles. Like surgical masks, N95 masks are intended to be disposable. However, researchers are testing ways to disinfect N95 masks so they can be reused.
So, is it a hoax? Do masks help? I will wear mine and hope that you will too, because if you think a mask is too cumbersome on your face at your local grocery store, then you will definitely NOT like 6-8 weeks on a ventilator.
~Sean Del Grego DMSc, PA-C