The coronavirus pandemic has deepened the ideological divide, wearing or refusing to wear a face mask has become a political statement. Most Democrats consider wearing a face mask a socially responsible action to flatten the curve and an expression of the Golden Rule: Do unto others …
Trump supporters consider a face mask the equivalent of a Che Guevara T-shirt, and they view going out in public maskless an expression of freedom, liberty and fealty to their Maskless Messiah.
I will contemplate face masks in the age of a pandemic from a scientific and common-sense lens and not a political one.
Not all masks are of equal efficacy in protecting us from the coronavirus, far from it.
N95 masks are the gold standard, they provide maximum protection and effectively prevent viral spread. When properly fitted they filter out 95% of particles which are 0.3 microns in size or larger.
In a perfect world no citizen would leave his home without donning an N95 mask and it’s a crying shame that our government didn’t have a stockpile of these masks to protect every citizen.
There is a chronic shortage of N95 masks even for physicians and first responders, and therefore it would be highly irresponsible and selfish for a citizen who isn’t a first responder, physician or nurse to wear one.
Surgical masks are the silver standard, these type of masks allow about 70% of the outside air to move through the mask and 30% travels around the sides. They don’t offer as much protection as N95s, but they do provide a modicum of protection. Unfortunately, there’s also a severe shortage of surgical masks.
Professionally manufactured fabric masks are the bronze standard, only about 2% of airflow is obstructed. I wouldn’t discourage anyone from buying these masks from Amazon or any online retailer.
Lastly, there are the homemade cloth masks an they are the shit standard. They provide zero protection for the person wearing one, and minimal protection for those around him. A homemade mask is as efficient as a fishnet condom. Period. End of story! They give a person a false sense of security and may even embolden him to disregard social distancing guidelines.
We shouldn’t be clamoring for everyone to wear a face mask in public, we should be demanding that our government provide us with 95masks, or at least surgical masks.