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Please wear a mask

Don’t be that person. Seriously.

Kara McIntyre remembers the day she likely contracted COVID-19 — she wasn’t wearing a face mask.

She was at Target and began to feel dizzy. Later she checked her temperature and had a fever. So she got tested for the novel coronavirus, and a few days later her results came back positive.

The 39-year-old radio deejay did not wear a face mask before she was infected in March, something she said she feels guilty about now.

“I know I came in contact with a person who tested positive for it,” McIntyre said. “I wasn’t going out much, but I put gas in my car, went to the grocery store. Knowing I went through that and may have gotten other people sick, that’s terrifying.”

As the state reopens restaurants, shopping malls, gyms and salons, whether or not to wear a mask has become a hot-button issue. To some, it’s a way to signal one has their neighbor’s health and well-being in mind. To others, it’s an inconvenience or an attack on American freedoms.

[…]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone wear a face mask in public, in addition to practicing social distancing and frequent hand washing. But the president and vice president are often photographed without them.

Face masks have become a divisive issue even in Houston, where residents are known for coming together during times of crisis like Hurricane Harvey, said Cathy Power, 51.

“What I gather is that there is a narrative out there that masks are for the weak. This is wrong — masks are worn to protect others; they are not for protecting yourself,” said Power, who lives in the East End, and suffers chronic health issues. “They reduce the risk by keeping droplets from traveling as far as they would if you were not wearing a mask. It works best if we all wear them.”

People wear masks to protect others around them as studies have shown it has little to do with our own ability to not be infected, said Dr. David Persse, Houston’s health authority.

“Take a mirror, breathe on it and see the mist that forms. If you’re ill, the mist is full of virus,” Persse said. “Do the same thing with the mask in front of you; you’ll see far less of any mist on that mirror at all. That’s how it works.”

This is the sort of assumption that drives post-reopening models that predict a large increase in COVID-19 infections. If people are literally and figuratively letting their guard down, we’re going to be right back where we were in early March before all the shutdowns. We don’t want that, right?

So that leaves two viable options. One is to continue to stay home as much as possible and be relentless about social distancing and avoiding crowds. If you’re doing that, then for the most part you don’t need to wear a mask. But when you are out in public, in places where you are interacting with or just in close contact with other people, then you really do need to wear one. Grocery shopping? Wear a mask. Getting your hair cut? Wear a mask. They do make a difference.

More to the point, if we all agree that the cost of keeping the economy on ice is very high, the key to reopening is to find ways to reduce risk while out in public. Wearing a mask is a low-cost method of risk mitigation. The more we do it, the more free we can be with our movements and interactions.

That’s really all there is to it. If we do this together, we can get that curve down to zero, which is the best-case scenario short of a vaccine. (Which an astonishingly large percentage of people say they won’t take, but that’s a rant for a different day.) Remember, lots of people have no choice about this – health care workers and people in all kids of retail and service jobs have been wearing masks all day every day for a long time now. It’s not that often that you can do a fairly small thing and make a big difference. This is one of those times. Wear your mask. Thank you.

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20 Comments

  1. Jason Hochman says:

    A mask may help, but the benefits are questionable. The study I saw from S. Korea so no benefit from masks, but there were only 4 subject. Another study saw a benefit, but it used hamsters in cages. So the science is shaky on this point, I guess you can wear one if you want. Although I see a lot of people wearing them to ride bikes and exercise. That can lower your blood oxygen and cause high blood pressure and other problems. I also see the people sliding their masks up and down wearing them around their necks, and handling them all the time. That was the reason they told us not to wear them in the first place–you would keep fiddling with it and putting germs from your grubby hands onto your face. Those masks must be a germ pillow.

    Meantime, we here nothing from the news about how the CDC changed its estimates of case fatality rate, to below 1% and infection fatality rate well below 1%. If you get infected there is a 30-50% chance of nothing happening.

    In Colorado, there were death certificates changed to indicate CVD-19 as cause of death, the health director in Illinois stated that if you were hospice with two weeks to live and then tested positive, that COVID would be the cause of death recorded. Dr. Birx allegedly said that she couldn’t trust anything coming from the CDC. The reality being that the virus is not as dangerous as we thought and that the numbers are being over inflated. And why not? I keep hearing from Democracy Now! that the billionaires collective wealth has soared by hundreds of billions, while the small businesses, unemployed, and working poor struggle along. Even though they have the motto that we are all in this together.

    As for Ms. McIntyre, it sounds as though she was sick in March, when masks were not recommended. Also, if she was exposed to someone who tested positive, she should not have gone to Target, she should’ve stayed at home for two weeks or if she got sick, until at least ten days after symptoms started plus three days with no fever.

  2. Jeff N. says:

    Charles, thanks for sharing this message, I agree 100%.

    Jason, the medical and scientific consensus supports wearing masks as the most effective method of lowering the transmission of COVID-19. We wear masks to protect others. I’ve had two close friends suffer great pain from the virus. More than 100,000 Americans have died, and more than 1 million have been infected. Those who don’t die are at risk of damage to their hearts, kidneys, and lungs that will shorten their lives and reduce their quality of life.

    The only organized opposition to mask-wearing we see comes from Trump and his followers. That group has no credibility. I will follow the scientific consensus.

  3. Manny says:

    Jason the probability of someone dying from Covid 19 is from 1.3% to maybe 2%, higher is one falls into certain categories.

    Why do police were vests? The probability of them getting killed by a bullet is less than 1/2 of 1 percent.

    Depending on the material of the mask, they can be very effective, maybe not for yourself but for others. That is assuming you give a hoot for other people.

  4. Jason Hochman says:

    Hi Manny, the CDC lowered their estimates of case fatality rate and infection fatality rate. Both are below one percent. Comparable to influenza.

    As you say a mask is more for others than yourself, but then it only matters if you have the virus, and you probably don’t. The science that I have seen about this consists of two studies, one with only four humans that found little benefit, and one with hamsters that found a lot of benefit. Another study that may be relevant is the ResPECT study. From my review of the actual science, there may be a small benefit to masks, and hey, no preventive measure is perfect, so wear one if you want. But I would not recommend wearing one while riding your bike or doing other strenuous exercise. It could reduce your oxygen and cause your blood pressure to go up.

    I took the Johns Hopkins course on contact tracing. As far as contact goes, the biggest concern is 15 minutes or more of contact at a distance of 6 feet or less. So someone walking past you in Target without a mask is not too likely to cause you to get sick.

    Finally I see the discarded masks all over the streets. The so-called conscientious wearers seemingly tossing them wherever. And the other people who slide them up and down, touching their faces with their grimy hands, which is the reason they told us not to wear a mask in the first place–you kids will fiddle with it, and in doing so put germs on your face that you will swallow. Oh yes, and that crazy woman in New York, who lied to the police when she had her fake histrionics because a Black man asked her to put her dog on a leash so that the dog wouldn’t chase away the birds he was watching, that was exactly what she did with her mask. No, wearing a mask is not a symbol (as Fauci describes its purpose) of caring for others. but again, it might help so wear one if you wish.

  5. Manny says:

    I don’t trust the CDC as it is controlled by Trump, to quote.

    Dr. Deborah Birx said ‘there is nothing from the CDC that I can trust’ in a White House coronavirus task force meeting

    https://www.businessinsider.com/deborah-birx-cdc-comments-coronavirus-task-force-meeting-2020-5

    Let me translate what you stated, Jason. Jason, I don’t give a sh*t about other people.

  6. brad says:

    Jason,

    If your definition of “comparable” between the flu and COVID is COVID being ten times more lethal, then yes the Jason dictionary says they are one and the same.

    If you don’t want to wear a mask, just make sure to walk around with a long gun while waving a Confederate and/or Don’t Tread on Me flag. That should do the trick to keep folks away from you and keep you and them safe.

  7. Jason Hochman says:

    brad, COVID is not 10x more lethal than the flu, read the science, even the CDC reduced its estimated case fatality rate and infection fatality rate so that both are well below 1%. There is perhaps a 30 to 50% chance that you can be infected and nothing at all happens.

    The difference with COVID is that it has the potential to infect more people, due to lack of herd immunity and lack of a vaccine. Yes, I do understand that .2% of 1,000,000 is much smaller than .2% of 50,000,000.

    Please listen to Democracy Now! and read the Intercept. The billionaires are raking it in having increased their cumulative wealth by hundreds of billions, while working people and small businesses are struggling. Who benefits from keeping the panic at the highest level possible? Do you believe their slogan that “we’re all in this together?” Do you think that the people pulling their masks up and down all day are not sticking germs all over their faces? Do you enjoy seeing the littered masks everywhere?

  8. C.L. says:

    Dr. Hochman, you’re right – masks make no difference at all. As a matter of fact, you should contact the Head of the Texas Medical Center (if you haven’t already) and tell him/her they could save a ton of cash by eliminating all future purchases of N95 masks.

  9. Jason Hochman says:

    C.L. an N95 is quite different from a mask that you make out of your old AC/DC For Those About to Rock tour shirt.

    Please look up the science. Please look up who is benefiting from keeping the panic at the highest possible level.

  10. brad says:

    Jason,

    Please check my Texas Instruments – 89 Titanium calculator math.

    Seasonal influenza has a fatality rate of 0.1%. You say COVID019 has a fatality rate of 1.0%.

    1.0% is ten times greater than 0.1%

  11. Jason Hochman says:

    brad, please re-read what I wrote, the CDC has revised the fatality rate WELL BELOW 1%, as in significantly below that level, very close to the influenza rate. Plus the death count is inflated. I can point you to several pieces, (not just on crazy anti vax sites, but MSN for instance) with stories about death certificates being changed, and the policy in Illinois of recording any death of someone who tests positive as COVID 19. Their secretary of health said that “even if you are in hospice with an estimated two weeks to live, but then test positive that is a COVID19 death.”

    I don’t believe that we are all in this together.

  12. brad says:

    Jason,

    I am sure you have read about the concerns of public health experts regarding the CDC’s revisions. I’ll take the links to those stories on MSN you mentioned.

    You don’t help your argument when you bring up the Illinois hospice scenario that may be .00001% of all deaths.

  13. Manny says:

    Jason you have made it clear you don’t care about other people, live with yourself, you ain’t convincing too many other people, other than people like Bill, that you are right.

  14. Jason Hochman says:

    OK, Manny, I will have to agree to disagree, as we can see the progressive idea is that words matter more than action, and that science is whatever supports what we say.

    The entire reason that Fauci first said NOT to wear masks is that it will cause people to touch their face more, and potentially put germs onto their faces. Now, they are telling us the opposite: wearing a mask may remind us not to touch our faces! Of course, the first idea is the correct one. From video, I see that when hysterical women call the police about an African American man assaulting them, they do take their masks and pull them down around their neck. I see a goodly number of people with their masks around their necks, and then they slide them up and down, to communicate, to drink water, or whatever. I think that they are using their grubby hands to do so.

    I think that we can see the false concern when Mayor Turner is out there leading a gathering of 60,000 people. Large gatherings were banned. No sports, no church, no parade on the holiday, yet this gathering is endorsed by our mayor?

  15. brad says:

    People have put themselves in harms way for a noble cause at an inflection point in our country’s history.

    Not for self serving reasons.

    Please see the distinction.

  16. brad says:

    Jason,

    I forgot to say thanks for the links.

    Really though I was expecting journalism news sources.

    The first article that I opened was co-written by noted voter fraud conspiracy theorist John Fund and a senior person from a right-wing think tank, so I decided to save myself some time and didn’t get to the other “news”.

  17. Manny says:

    Jason is a milder form of Bill Daniels, trying to convince people that Trump is a good guy, not the racist, corrupt person, that people like Bill and Jason have enabled. They and and all the other Trump enablers are destroying our country. They so tribal that they can’t see what destruction they have brought.

    Jason, you have enabled Trump to bring us “Mourning in America”.

    https://youtu.be/t_yG_-K2MDo

  18. Jason Hochman says:

    brad,
    the John Fund piece, however, quotes Dr. Birx, and the quotation is attributed to its original publication in the Washington Post.

    I would suggest also checking into the higher costs from Medicare that hospitals can recover for CVD-19 patients. That is important to them now, because most of them are so hollowed out and empty. They have an incentive to come up with as many COVID19 deaths as possible.

  19. Jason Hochman says:

    Make sure the mask covers your eyes, too. I just read about leading virologist Dr. Joseph Fair, who claims he got COVID19 through his eyes. Get your blindfolds on. He ended up needing to be hospitalized, and fortunately has recovered. Also, he was tested for corona virus 4 times, all negative, but he insists that he had it.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/virologist-hospitalized-coronavirus-believes-he-got-it-through-his-eyes-n1206956