June 14, 2020

Masks work

By now most of you have read that if more people wear masks, the less chance of a second surge we will have. Sadly, the number of cases are going up in many states as they open up. Arizona is starting to run out of ICU beds, which means hospitals may get overwhelmed and run out of PPE and N95 masks.

Running out of the good N95 masks can be life threatening for health care workers. N95 masks works differently than a surgical mask. It is fitted to the face so air can’t be sucked in the edges, only through the mask material that filters the air. We are fitted yearly for our masks and must pass a fit test that checks for leakage. A test I have failed more than once. If one type of mask fails the fit test, we have to try a different size or style. Men with beards usually can’t make them work. Wearing an N95 that hasn’t been fit tested can give a false sense of security. Running out of them or re-using them is also dangerous. Fortunately, some smart people have come up with simple ways to “Fix the mask”. They take a readily available surgical mask and help it seal with rubber bands. It seals as well as an N95. Pretty cool. The surgical mask material has an electrostatic charge that filters better and causes particles and droplets to cling to it, so this won’t work with a homemade mask. But adapting a surgical mask might be a way for you to make a safer mask, if you absolutely must go to that store or party.

But still better to follow the CDC recommendations for gatherings to stay unexposed, the smaller the better, always outside, 6 feet apart. Here is a New York Times article about how to have people over. It is summer, after all, everywhere except Seattle, where it is still Junuary (I spelled that right- still chilly here). But most everywhere else, it is easier to entertain and be safer together outdoors.

We are in this for the long haul so consider making pods with friends where you limit contact just with each other. Here is advice how to do that- it can help us get through these next months. Just try not to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Wash your hands, cover your nose, and stay 6 feet away.

And finally, my caveat is that this is my experience and my opinions, which are subject to change as more information is available, and not related to the organization I work for. Thanks for reading.

https://www.businessinsider.com/diy-face-mask-n95-ex-apple-engineer-surgical-masks-fit-2020-6

https://www.fixthemask.com/make-it

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/09/parenting/coronavirus-pod-family.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/06/at-home/coronavirus-how-to-have-friends-over.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/considerations-for-events-gatherings.html