Don’t Be a Fool: Conversation spews virus droplets into the air and eyes
Mask or no mask? Professional grade or do-it-yourself? These are the newest questions all of us must ask ourselves and others in this time of a worldwide pandemic. Now we also know the virus can enter THE EYES and they require protection as well. What will you do?
The medical community, as well as government agencies such as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), have varied in their position regarding wearing face masks by the general public. Originally, face masks were only recommended for those who might have the COVID-19 virus.
The masks were to prevent the spreading of the virus by sneezing or coughing, which would have distributed droplets into the air, which would then infect anyone coming into that space. But that isn’t the only way the virus is transmitted. Talking to someone can send contaminated droplets into the air and their face which would infect them. You may not know you’re infected and that’s the troubling fact.
However, as the pandemic worsened, the thinking, as well as some research, has shown the prudence of everyone wearing masks. The reason? Persons who are infected may not show symptoms and, thereby, be infecting others unknowingly.
Also, the virus can live on surfaces for much longer than we previously knew, and these surfaces can be contaminated for days, not by merely sneezing or coughing. It is now known that the simple act of speaking to someone spreads droplets into the air toward the person being engaged in the conversation.
COVID-19 is a highly contagious, deadly virus that hides in places previously unknown and in a person even before its presence is detected. These persons known as “super spreaders” are extremely dangerous, and it is for this reason that precautions are now being recommended.
Recent guidance is essential to note. “The shift in expert guidance has come in the past couple of weeks — as the coronavirus has spread throughout the US. A recent report by public health experts for the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute (AEI) was unequivocal: “everyone, including people without symptoms, should be encouraged to wear nonmedical fabric face masks while in public.”
The Experts Begin to Speak
Carolyn Machamer, a professor of cell biology whose lab at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, has studied the basic biology of coronaviruses for years, in a recent interview noted:
“What’s getting a lot of press and is presented out of context is that the virus can last on plastic for 72 hours — which sounds really scary. But what’s more important is the amount of the virus that remains. It’s less than 0.1% of the starting virus material. Infection is theoretically possible but unlikely at the levels remaining after a few days. People need to know this.”
The professor seems to indicate that, while the virus may be present, its potency would have diminished, but are we willing to take that risk? Individuals who have shared a church pew after a super spreader sat in it have contracted the virus. Church choir members, attending a rehearsal, contracted the virus. This high rate of infection in these choir members lends credence to the aerosol spreading of the virus as singing fills the air with droplets.
A study in The New England Journal of Medicine underscored the aerosol dangers of simple conversation: “Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is plausible since the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours and on surfaces up to days (depending on the inoculum shed).”
Previously, the Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, tweeted: “Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing the general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” He went on TV to make his point to the American public.
He urged people to stop buying masks, but he didn’t indicate people should STOP WEARING masks of some type other than medical-grade needed for healthcare professionals. His statements and those of others led to confusion about the utility of masks for all, which is now viewed as an “independent” decision for all.
The confusion may remain, but the evidence is amassing regarding how vulnerable we are to infection from this virus. Shouldn’t we be doing more than social distancing to protect ourselves and others? It would seem both ethical and necessary.
A study out of China added to the data on asymptomatic COVID-19 patients. Those who had no longer shown symptoms and were thought to be clear of it were still shedding it and could infect others. The situation in Singapore, where temperatures in the 90s haven’t affected this disease, are now seeing an upsurge in cases again.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has now reversed itself and is advising people to wear face masks in public. “The updated stance comes as more scientific research points to the positive effect of wearing masks in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, with more governments in Europe requiring people to cover their noses and mouths in public.
“We can certainly see circumstances on which the use of masks, both home-made and cloth masks, at the community level may help with an overall comprehensive response to this disease,” Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies programme, said on Friday.”
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore announced on Friday, April 3, that “Since …, the number of new cases daily has begun to rise. We used to see fewer than 10 new cases a day. But in the last two weeks, despite our best efforts, we have routinely had more than 50 new cases daily.” The virus has not been beaten there, either.
Where to Find DIY Mask Patterns
Do you need sewing skills? The plethora of patterns, many that don’t require any sewing or sewing machine skills, are available free to all of us. Where do we find them?
The first place to consider might be that wellspring of all things DIY, Youtube, but there are websites as well. I’ve listed a number of these below.
- Simple DIY mask-making
- DIY Fabric Face Mask
- How to Sew a Reusable Mask
- How to Sew a Face Mask with a Filter Pocket
- How to Make a Face Mask Without Elastic
- How to Make a No-Sew Face Mask
- Emergency Face Mask-5 easy, quick, no-sew methods
- How to Make a DIY Medical Face Mask Using Fabric and a Vacuum Bag
9. A Doctor Explains How to Make the Safest Face Mask
10. 3 DIY Face masks: No Sewing Required!
What Should We Do?
Is the solution to containing the COVID-19 virus so easily accomplished by the guidelines of adequate hygiene in terms of handwashing and maintaining social distancing? It would appear it isn’t, and neither is temperature an indicator of the virus’s impending disappearance. It lives in colder and warmer climates, so spring and summer will offer no respite from its viciousness. Singapore has proven that.
The decision regarding masks may still be ours, but the weight of the medical evidence appears to be on the side of proactive precautions; wear a mask. You may feel foolish at first, but what is better, feeling foolish or fighting for your life on a ventilator?
The choice is yours, and it can be a life or death one.