Mask logic

Tim Nerenz:

Good lord, I wish Facebook had way to block posts about masks instead of blocking friends; somehow this has turned into a caring contest, and so if you really care, consider what else you can do that is far more effective at protecting others than wearing a mask (which I do BTW).

Data and science, baby. The cloth mask does not protect you from the little covid bastards, and nobody has ever claimed it would. If you are outside of the range of transmission they have no effect whatsoever; you can’t hit a deer at half a mile with your bow and arrow, and that is why they don’t wear flack jackets and flip you the middle hoof if you scold them about it. European experts have set the perimeter at 1 meter outside and 2 meters inside don’t know why our folks don’t make the distinction – same data, same science.

What the cloth mask does is restrict the velocity of exhaled air flow to reduce the range of droplets which carry the shed viruses out of your body. If you are infected, you can reduce your risk of infecting others by 30% by wearing a mask to reduce your effective range. But that is not very much caring compared to what else you can do care a lot more.

When you pass someone at a walking speed, hold your breath – that reduces your risk of infecting others by 100%. Don’t talk to strangers, just like your mom said – that reduces your risk to others by 80%. Breathe through your nose – about 50% less velocity than mouth breathing. And (duh) cover your coughs and sneezes and wash your hands and don’t touch your face, again just like your mom said without a doctorate in virology. Stay home if you sick or contact-traced or return from travel to a place where it makes sense to play it safe for two weeks.

The data and science has said for a century that one little covid virus isn’t going to cause you any problems, it takes an army of the little bastards to storm the beaches and establish a foothold. After seven months and millions of cases, the covidian data and science says that 2 seconds passing by someone isn’t enough time for covids to get the job done; a couple of minutes at the checkout or drive-through window won’t either, and most now have plexiglass anyway – the worst Typhoid Mary could do is fog it up. Of course there can be exceptions and outliers – you could get TB or Polio or Ebola tomorrow too.

The data and science (courtesy of the local public health department in my German county) suggests that 10-15 minutes of direct face-to-face close quarters conversation with an infected person who is within 48 hours of showing symptoms puts you in range of the covid army. Maybe those kids texting each other on a date in the booth at a restaurant had it right all along – who knew? Elevators and crowded public transport puts in the right in the middle of several potential covid armies from all sides, so it is like going to covid Aleppo. Take the stairs and call an Uber if you can.

Near proximity for longer periods, say 1-2 hours, is also a risky move, so reconfigure your workplace and try to avoid the social security office. That is the problem with bars – we tend to stop caring after a few black russians with beer chasers, a pre-covid observation from my days back on the tour. Too close to too many people for too long. People my age already had our fun in taverns, let’s not muck it up for the young people who are unlikely to get severe symptoms by dying and giving the fun police a reason to shut the joints down over and over again.

Data and science tells us our risk of infection is more dependent on our own choices than what someone else chooses to do or not do; it is unreasonable to expect someone else to care about you more than you care about yourself. Personally, I do not find it to be a great inconvenience to wear a mask, although it does defeat its purpose when I have to pull it down to read the “must wear a mask in this establishment” sign because my glasses are all fogged up. A $9 neck gaiter solves that problem and my fellow humans are worth nine bucks to me.

But I find it even less of a bother to hold my breath when passing, not talking to people I don’t know, and breathing through my nose for a couple of minutes before returning to my normal mouth-breathing, knuckle dragging bad self. A few flights of stairs to avoid a crowded elevator is good for me – I was supposed to be doing that for the past 20 years anyway.

So to all my facebook friends who I love dearly, please don’t be selfish, don’t be unkind, and don’t be ignorant about the data and science. If you want to win the caring contest then, in order, practice good hygiene, keep your distance, hold your breath, don’t talk to strangers, and mask up when necessary, but remember to unmask as soon as it is not necessary. Don’t wear the damn thing around like it’s a jersey proclaiming your favorite team or a garlic necklace to keep the vampires away. It’s cloth, not kryptonite, and it is the least you can do to protect others – literally the very least thing you can do, so don’t expect a medal.

The data and science has been pretty clear and consistent since early February that flattening the curve meant stretching it out to 18 months or so. It would be nice to still have some friends left when this is over, don’t you think? 

How do we know Wisconsin’s mask mandate is a stupid idea (besides being illegal and unconstitutional)? Reuters reports:

The Dutch government on Wednesday said it will not advise the public to wear masks to slow the spread of coronavirus, asserting that their effectiveness has not been proven.

The decision was announced by Minister for Medical Care Tamara van Ark after a review by the country’s National Institute for Health (RIVM). The government will instead seek better adherence to social distancing rules after a surge in coronavirus cases in the country this week, Van Ark said at a press conference in The Hague.

“Because from a medical perspective there is no proven effectiveness of masks, the Cabinet has decided that there will be no national obligation for wearing non-medical masks” Van Ark said. …

RIVM chief Jaap van Dissel said that the organization was aware of studies that show masks help slow the spread of disease but it was not convinced they will help during the current coronavirus outbreak in the Netherlands.

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