Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Sunday, March 29, 2020

An Ounce of Prevention 

It's very simple: Throw away your face mask and wash your hands. The video above shows how most cases of the Corona virus start from hand contact. So what about face masks? I am going to explain:

Face Masks.

There is a lot of debate about face masks, so if you're confused, I don't blame you. Basically, a face mask protects other people from you, it does not protect you from other people. Why is this? It's because surgical masks are not designed to, nor are they capable of filtering out a virus. To a virus, the smallest hole in a surgical mask is a mile wide. The face mask does not hinder it in any way. So why do surgeons use them? Because they do protect other people from you if you cough or sneeze. When you sneeze the sneeze comes out into the air in droplets. Those droplets seem small to you, but to a virus that droplet is a tsunami. It swallows the virus. The mask cannot stop a virus, but it can easily stop that tsunami. So don't ever think that surgical masks don't work. Hospitals have to be sterile. So there is no way surgeons would use surgical masks if they were not effective in preventing the spread of germs (from them to their patients). So of course they work or they would not be used so widely by medical professionals. They just don't work the way you think they do. .

The feeling about masks differs very widely between Americans and Asians. It amuses me to see how people regard their mask as protection from something that is much, much smaller than the smallest hole in their mask. But there is a very important reason why they are more needed in Asia than in America. In China, as in most Asian countries, people travel on crowded subways. If someone coughs or sneezes, you will not be protected if you are wearing a mask. But you will be protected if he is wearing a mask. But how do you get him to do that? If there were a big sign at the subway station saying, "If you are sick, please wear a face mask," how many people do you think would be wearing a mask? In China, not very many. In Japan people typically wear a face mask when they have a cold, in order to protect the people around them. But in China this is not common. People here generally cough or sneeze into the air.

But if you require everyone who gets on the subway to wear a face mask, everyone will be protected. So I don't know...maybe it's a good thing people think that a face mask protects them from other people, because then they will all wear one. But it's troubling to see people getting all upset about a shortage of masks, as if the face mask could actually keep them safe. I saw one picture of a man in Hong Kong who was in tears because he could not get a face mask. I wanted to tell him, "Don't worry, if everyone else is wearing one, won't need one." I think Hong Kong people are a little superstitious about face masks anyway. Believe it or not, there is actually a Fengshui master in Hong Kong who is teaching people how to cast a spell on their face masks to make them more effective.

In America, people typically drive to work in their cars. There's no reason to be wearing a face mask when you are by yourself in a car. If you have a carpool, then it might be a good idea for all of you to agree that you will wear a face mask. That way, if someone in your car pool has a cold or something, he will not have to be embarrassed about wearing a face mask, since everyone else is wearing one too. But again, wearing a face mask does not protect you from someone else. And if it makes you touch your face more often, you're better off without it.

Hand Washing

When we think about the spread of disease, people tend to think of bacteria. So alcohol is commonly used because it kills bacteria. But the Cornoa virus is not bacteria. It is a virus, and you cannot really kill a virus, because a virus is not living. But it turns out that an ordinary bar of soap is deadly to a virus. This article explains why:

Generally, I think that ordinary bar soap is probably more effective at dealing with a virus than hand sanitizer. But a bar of soap has one great weakness: It is pretty much useless without running water. So if you have running water, a bar of soap would be more effective. If not, then hand sanitizer would be better.

Does it matter how long you wash your hands? I don't know. Don't obsess about that. Just grab a bar of soap and wash your hands. As for face masks, if it makes you feel better, wear one. But if it inclines you to touch your face more often, then get rid of it. It's doing more harm than good.



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