All health authorities tell us to wash our hands often, to wear a mask, to maintain a social distance from people, and more. I noticed an article today that allocated percentages to a couple of COVID-19 safety procedures.
Wearing a mask protects the person wearing a mask and any other person within a social distance of that person. Health experts believe that a mask reduces the risk of infection by 65%. Translated another way, in the exact same situation a person with a mask would be safe two times out of three. This assumes that the virus is airborne in your personal space.
There have been several videos showing particles hanging in the air for a couple of minutes after breathing, talking, sneezing, or coughing. Breathing and talking produce air particles much smaller than those we can see when a person sneezes or coughs. The virus is enveloped on or in the airborne particulate matter. In an office without air movement, the airborne time can be extended to several minutes.
Outside, the wind blows these airborne particles away very quickly. I was walking outside this afternoon (very breezy and hot – mid-90s) for nearly an hour without seeing another person walking on the same trail. I had a mask in my pocket but did not wear it while walking. If needed, I would have used it. Wind motion is our friend to fend off airborne germs and viruses.
65% is an interesting number. There are many grades and types of face masks. A simple outlaw
bandana mask open on the bottom is approved by local authorities because it is considered a mask. Does it meet the 65% protection level of reducing infection risk? Probably not. N95 masks offer far better protection.
I place my mask skin-side up on the dashboard of my car to allow sunshine and hot interior temperatures inside the car to sanitize the mask. Hours in the sun and 130+ degrees inside the car is a good, cheap, and dependable way to decontaminate a mask from our own breathing.
Social distancing – six feet from other people – gives us at least a 90% reduction in risk from infection. Nine times out of ten in the exact same situation, the social distance will provide a level of safety from infection. This assumes no air movement.
Two people wearing masks pass each other at the appropriate social distance appear to be safe compared to the non-mask wearer inside the prescribed social distance in a room without airflow.
Walking or exercising in an open area minimizes risk because of airflow. Maintaining a social distance enhances that reduction in risk. Wearing a mask might be overkill if no one else is near you.
Sitting in a bar without good ventilation for a couple of hours and enjoying adult beverages without a mask will probably increase the risk of infection. The same could be said for any type of indoor social or political protest.
Many doctors allow only the patient to be seen to enter the office waiting area. This minimizes the risk to other family members. But it increases the risk to those sitting in the waiting room for more than a few minutes. I cannot think of the last time I or my wife was ever in a waiting room for a few minutes – most of the time it is twenty minutes minimum.
Maybe the smart thing to do is to check-in and wait in an area without many people, or an area with good ventilation and have them call/text you when you can enter the doctor’s office.
We will be observing social distancing, face masks, and hand washing for months to come. The infection level in the United States (and overseas) is not nearly enough to gain a herd immunity to reduce the risk of transference of COVID-19.
Plan another year protecting yourself and your family. The longer people are locked down in their homes, the one-year plan might have to become a two-year plan. The survival rate is over 99% for COVID-19. We will survive this pandemic we do not know how long it will take.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com