The New York Times and Washington Post have now come round to a position I advocated for right here on Medium last week: We must always all be wearing masks. Not just health care workers, however ALL of us. Whenever we go out in public.

Why?

Because they work.

Research from the SARS outbreak in 2003 shows that washing palms 10+ instances daily was 55% efficient in stopping virus transmission; wearing a masks was really more efficient, reducing transmission by about sixty eight%.

Combining a number of forms of protection — hand washing, mask wearing, gloves, and one other layer of outerwear (gowning) — was 91% effective.

Read that again: ninety one% efficient at stopping virus transmission.

COVID-19 and SARS are similar types of viruses (coronaviruses), and it is smart that what works to cease transmission for one will work to cease transmission of the other.

Masks work, first, because they’re a physical barrier to whatever’s riding alongside on that air you’re breathing or moving through. Here’s a chart showing the relative barrier effectiveness for various materials:

Secondly, they work because they preserve you from touching your face all day long. The mask makes you more self-aware of the fact that you’re not supposed to touch your face- specifically, your mouth, nose, and eyes, and the areas around them- and in case you accidentally do, you’ll touch the masks, not your skin directly.

Third, the experience of different international locations who masks show that masks work in the real world. Within the words of Jeremy Howard, researcher and Masks4All activist, explaining a chart in his latest Youtube video showing how some nations have efficiently “flattened the curve” on new infections: “When you take a look at all the international locations which have flat curves, they’re nations the place mask-wearing is extremely normal, and NOT wearing a mask in places like public transport could be considered anti-social.” He notes that the Czech Republic went from zero mask utilization to a hundred% in 10 days, and within the process they halted the expansion of new covid-19 cases. The Czechs made their own masks- the federal government didn’t give them out.

In the event you nonetheless need to be persuaded, check out this Chinese examine of an area outbreak case on January 22 during the peak Lunar New Year journey season. A sick person on the bus who didn’t interact with anyone spread the virus to 7 others, some of whom were seated a lot more than 6 ft away. Two new passengers caught the virus 30 minutes after the original sick person had left the bus. NONE OF THE PEOPLE WEARING MASKS WERE INFECTED. Read the article, it’s very detailed, with a schematic of exactly the place folks had been sitting on the bus.

So let’s say you’re convinced, and now you’re thinking of some kind of face covering. What are your options?

First, please don’t purchase masks commercially, if by some miracle you possibly can find them now. Commercially made PPE ought to be reserved for medical personnel at this time. Unfortunately, the shortage of commercially made PPE, and the dearth of foresight that caused us to be in such a position of shortage, is probably why we initially bought this messaging of “Masks don’t work!” They do, people just didn’t want you to understand it for a while, to avoid a run on masks. Think of the empty cabinets in supermarkets across America where rest room paper used to live, and you understand why.

The easiest thing you can do to masks NOW are to make use of materials around the house. Get creative; anything that covers the mouth and nostril and stays in place will work.

While it’s greatest if the mask suits well and there aren’t any gaps between your face and the outside air, don’t hand over on your homemade masks in case you can’t achieve that. Any face covering will hold you from touching the skin round your nostril and mouth directly, which could change into crucial mechanism by which masks block virus transmission. In case you inadvertently touch your face while you’re wearing a mask, you’ll just touch the masks, not your skin.

You may attempt to shape your face covering using pipe cleaners or opened-up rubber-coated paper clips in the part that goes over your nostril to make a tighter match — experiment. A very powerful thing is that you just wash your palms, put in your face covering, and go out of the house protected.

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