Thursday, November 12, 2020

Mask science is clear: Wear one

There’s been confusion about masks, but science has cleared a lot of it up.

Here’s the short version:

Yes, masks limit the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

Yes, if you wear a mask of any kind, you’re less likely to spread it to someone else.

And also, yes, if you wear a mask, you’re less likely to get the disease yourself, or if you do, it is likely to be less severe.

Can we now just do ourselves a favor and just wear at least a cloth mask when we’re around other people?

If you drop a glass and it breaks on the kitchen floor, you put slippers on to keep from getting cut until it’s cleaned up. Simple enough.

Cowboys who ride through brush and cactus wear chaps to protect their legs from scratches and pokes. Simple enough.

There’s a serious disease wafting on moisture droplets in the air. You wear a mask to filter them out. 

Seems simple enough.

This disease is only a year or so old, and we arre still learning about it. That’s why the guidance is changing—because we’re learning more. 

In the early days, when infection levels were still very low, the recommendation was for the general public not to wear masks—largely to preserve the mask supply for health care workers who were at highest risk.

Then this amazing cottage industry rose up, and folks were sewing cloth masks. Folks studying them found that, yep, they reduced the chance of a sick person spreading the disease to others. That led to the line, “My mask protects you, your mask protects me.”

But most of us really wore the masks in hope that it might actually protect us, even if just a little.

And sure enough, the science shows we were right. My mask also protects me.

If you’re around covidiots who insist on not wearing masks, you’re a little safer if you are wearing one. But you’re even safer not to be around those bare-faced covidiots in the first place.

So here is some of the science:

That’s a July article from the Journal of General Internal Medicine with this headline, “Masks Do More Than Protect Others During COVID-19: Reducing the Inoculum of SARS-CoV-2 to Protect the Wearer.”

The upshot of the article is that even if you do get a dose, it will likely be a smaller dose, and it potentially gives you a less serious case of the disease, and maybe even an asymptomatic case—meaning you got it but you don’t feel sick.

Here’s a paragraph from that paper, describing what researchers found: 

“A report from a pediatric hemodialysis unit in Indiana, where all patients and staff were masked, demonstrated that staff rapidly developed antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 after exposure to a single symptomatic patient with COVID-19. In the setting of masking, however, none of the new infections was symptomatic. And in a recent outbreak in a seafood processing plant in Oregon where all workers were issued masks each day at work, the rate of asymptomatic infection among the 124 infected was 95%. An outbreak in a Tyson chicken plant in Arkansas with masking also showed a 95% asymptomatic rate of infection.

But if you want to avoid getting sick at all, it’s best to go for the trifecta. Wear the mask. Keep your distance from people not in your household. Wash your hands frequently and well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

glad you are back. feared the worst