I know that many of my readers took my advice to heart back in January, where I advised buying a good quality N95 or N100 particulate respirator. Some masks meet these standards but are hard to use due to lack of good fabric and valving and/or poor shape that fits poorly; I recommended ones that work well and fit well and can be used even under heavy exertion.
The bad news is that it is very hard to buy a good mask at this point, and that most of the ones being sold are junk—they won’t fit well and they have poor airflow. Masks are just one item of protective gear—buy disposable vinyl gloves and USE THEM everywhere you go, since touching things is a major transmission vector. As of a week ago, I was able to buy some at Walmart. They are also great for keeping gas or diesel stink off hands when refueling your vehicle.
Check hardware stores for full-blown respirators (for woodworking and painting, etc)—they cost more but typically have replaceable filters and excellent seals. Not fun to wear though.
There is one benefit to a half-assed surgical mask: while they do not block viruses, they might keep you from touching your nose, and if you are infected and sneeze, they protect others somewhat.
Those who did NOT take my prescient advice include my own father (80+ years old), who now has a respiratory infection, apparently not Wuhan Coronavirus but I fear for him, lest he be infected and likely die from an additional infection before he recovers from this one. If he now gets Wuhan Coronavirus before recovering, his prognosis is far worse. He did not follow my advice in avoiding contact with people and he did not purchase a mask when I advised him to do so.
So belatedly, my father buys an N95 mask off ebay at 10X the price it ought to be—one with no valving, which makes it hard to breath so he doesn’t want to wear it. The 3M masks I recommended have no breathing issue, even the N100 which is MUCH thicker fabric* (20X better filtration than N95). The key is a one-way valve as on the 3M masks and a quality mask fabric. So if you can get the 3M masks I recommended, get 'em.
* I have worn an N100 respirator (for pine pollen) for 60 miles at altitude in a double century before with a very large lung volume respiration for hours. I intend to wear an N100 mask as usual at Joshua Tree Double Century this Saturday while riding along I25 portion of the route, and more if the wind/dust pick up.
The news and the government are either lying or incompetent or both
Contrary to the lying and incompetent dumb fucks on the news* which seek to mislead (“surgical masks don’t work” on FoxNews today!), instead of explaining what does work. And the government. The real message is that there is a shortage and “the hell with you if you want to protect yourself, your life is a statistic to us”. N100 face masks worn properly *do* block the virus as proven by NIH studies. N95 should be largely effective also.
Add on news photos showing the ultimate dumb fucks: public leaders misleading and mis-educating millions of people. Too harsh language? Well, death is harsh and such actions by showing the wrong way to wear a mask could lead to infection and death—take the mask off, or wear it properly. For example, a South Korean leader wearing a surgical mask (NOT effective even if worn properly) with nostrils fully exposed, thus showing the WRONG mask and WRONG way to wear one. It doesn’t get any more 'jackass' than that and he ought to be resign outright for being an idiot. I have numerous other photos in the news, all showing totally ineffective ways to wear a mask.
Also, masks do not work with beards because a good seal cannot happen, so shave it off.
Anon MD / medical doctor (physician) writes:
Your relocation to the Owens Valley is the smartest thing you can do and I may be joining you there, though if I see your van I ain’t coming anywhere close.
As for mask advice, there are now no longer any available, even through woodworking outlets. You can’t get hand sanitizer or gloves either. My medical office has had to lock our limited supply of masks and gloves up due to pilfering by either staff or patients happening in other local physician offices, thankfully not in ours yet. We’re screening all patients by phone before they come in and again on arrival. We will probably run out of surface sanitizing solutions and personal protective equipment (masks and gloves) long before this is over because of all the twits out there who’ve hoarded their own personal supply. Pretty soon, admission to our office will require you bring us a sealed box of gloves or masks up front :) With the federal and state announcements yesterday and Wednesday night there is now a run on grocery stores - gotta lay in that supply of beer and Cheetos. And forget toilet paper and bottled water. It’s all gone. As a physician, all I can say is WTF? Here on the Central Coast of California the stores are all out of beans too, so maybe that explains the TP, but the bottled water?!?!
The lack of any consistent, accurate, truthful or helpful response by the US federal government is utterly appalling. And their heavy hand in trying to make the number of infections appear as low as possible by restricting who can be tested and when is just baffling. We learned in medical school that “If you don’t take a temperature, you can’t find a fever.” That seems to be the game plan. I heard that LA County is restricted by the CDC to 60 tests a day and Sacramento to something like 20 tests a day. I can not verify this but if this is true and this proscription extends to the entire US, we’re all fucked. But wait, there’s more!
All social media is worthless if not outright dangerous, especially Twitter and anything owned or controlled by Facebook. TV News sources are also worthless. There are a few information sources that may be better, like the NYTimes, LATimes, Washington Post or the Guardian. The most reliable source for current Covid19 info is still probably the WHO. As for broader info, I think many US sources are suspect and I would tend to favor foreign news sources, at least for info as to what’s happening in the world outside the US.
And, unbelievably but sadly, you may get the best advice from your State and County Public Health Departments. They are typically staffed by seasoned professionals and have not been gutted by the political appointee process.
DIGLLOYD: beans, beans, the magical froooooooooot! The more you eat the more TP you need! Not me though—just do the doggie thing on the neighbor’s lawn in a pinch... ouch!
Seriously, I agree that staying away from my van is a good idea—I have not showered/bathed in 2 weeks, and I've done two double centuries...! But I did have a very disturbing experience with a “neighbor” casing my van—makes me wish I had a concealed carry permit (though I don’t own a handgun).
People are pretty smart: wiping your ass should be a TOP priority!!!!