The Czech Republic flattened their coronavirus curve by ordering everyone to wear homemade cloth masks to leave the house. We could do in the US, had we a competent leader.
The growth of coronavirus cases has “flattened” in the Czech Republic ever since the country’s government has made masks compulsory, claimed data scientist Jeremy Howard.
This occurred after the government announced it was compulsory to wear something covering a part of your mouth and nose when leaving your residences – such as a home-made mask or a scarf on March 18.
Howard claimed that “one of the key reasons for the decrease in the growth of the cases is a massive country-wide community initiative to create and wear home-made masks.”
In just 10 days, the country went from no mask usage to nearly 100 percent usage, with nearly all the masks made at home with easily accessible materials, like old t-shirts.
Dr. Eldad Einav advises,
In a striking contrast to prevention guidelines in the Western world, Asian countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong have made masks a cornerstone of their strategy in fighting the pandemic. China has even enforced compulsory face mask policies in some regions.
As the weight of evidence shifts toward supporting a major role for asymptomatic transmission, the use of personal facemasks, especially in crowded areas, becomes instrumental in preventing community spread of the virus.
So why voice a need for widespread mask use in desperate times when we do not even have enough masks for hospitals?
The reason is that by making the facts public, more resources may become available. The message that masks not only can protect healthcare workers but also can help control the outbreak may recruit more efforts, allocate more resources, and make this a national top priority.
This was exactly what happened in Asia, where universal mask wear has been advised. Both Taiwan and South Korea faced shortages of masks, and they responded by increasing mask production. Taiwan opened 60 new productions at various manufacturing plants across the country to produce 10 million masks a day.
The same can be done in the United States. Resources can be mobilized to fill that need. The president has the power to order the industry to produce more masks by further executing the Defense Production Act. In the meantime, homemade cloth masks could be used in the community, ... [emphasis mine]
'Stealth Transmission' of COVID-19 Demands Widespread Mask Usage (You may have to join Medscape to read the article, but it's free.)
image source (from r/Sewing_Facemasks)
There's a subreddit on sewing facemasks. This article gives helpful data on why two layers of cotton tee shirt material is recommended.
A national effort to make and wear cloth homemade masks, as done in the Czech Republic, is exactly the kind of constructive unifying national action we need not only to save our lives, but also to feel a little more in control and a little less scared.
NYC critical care doctor Dave Price suggests that a big part of masks' benefits is in reminding people to not touch their face with unwashed hands.
He may be downplaying airborne transmission, though.
A friend's summary:
Among other things,
newborns to age 14 seem to be in no danger from it
he thinks all you have to do to be safe is to maniacally use hand sanitizer and keep your hands away from face...but have to be rigorous
Best thing about a mask is keeping your hands away from your face. Don't need a medical mask (32 minutes) or much in the way of PPE
can have covid at home without infecting family if you follow basic precautions
Know better now that we know how doctors can avoid infection (34 minutes)
the disease is very susceptible to disinfectants, very fragile (37)
Don't need to wash your clothes after being out, but doctors do. (40)
Don't go to the hospital unless you're short of breath...that's the inflection point (41)
Disease affects everyone older than 14. Older people are more vulnerable, but younger ones can to and get it badly (42)
Avoid ibuprofen (44) take acetaminophen
Progress of disease (45) and recovery
Follow on wave will happen...social distancing needs to go on for months or a year or indefinite future (48) The new normal.
Asymptomatic spread (1-2 days before fever) 50. If you get covid think back about who you were with
You are immune after full recovery, 52
Eventually (a few years) disease will get milder and be like a cold 53
UK attempt to create herd immunity immediately is wrong 56
It seems like with rigorous discipline you can avoid infection. Maintaining that is the problem.
Jeremy Howard says 38 academic papers support public use of masks during a pandemic.
For the sewing-challenged, here's a tutorial on making a face mask from a handkerchief and 2 hair ties.
There's a link to a YouTube demonstration at the bottom.
That mask is just a fancy fold. You'll have to remake it after washing it -- but it looks useful for those of us who are sewing-challenged!
Cotton T-shirt material might be better for filtering, but any sort of mask (1) reminds you not to touch your face, and (2) normalizes the idea of all kinds of people wearing masks in public to reduce asymptomatic spread.
"The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks." George Gao, director-general of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Chris Smith summarizes Japanese research about micrometer particles.
… when we talk, we also emit invisible micrometer particles. Micro-droplets if you will. These tiny particles are smaller than the cough droplets, and gravity won’t pull them down. As a result, they can stay in the air for a longer stretch of time, and they can reach you with greater ease, especially if you’re not covered by protective gear.
To prove the theory, NHK and a group of researchers used a high-sensitivity camera and laser beams to record droplets’ behavior
… micro-droplets persist in the air.
More interestingly, these micro-droplets appear on film even during conversation.
The researchers simulated what happens with a cough in a closed room, and concluded that the micro-droplets could persist in the air for up to 20 minutes. Everyone in that room would be exposed to them. [emphasis mine]