Confused about masks?
You’re not the only one. Talk about mixed messages. Frankly, I’d be surprised if you WEREN’T confused at this point.
The authorities want us to listen to them… to believe the warnings… to never question a word they say.
They insist they’re right about the spreading coronavirus and the deadly threat. And they warn that if you don’t listen to them, it’s not just your life at stake. It’s everyone’s lives.
And the truth is there not entirely wrong. Because the threat IS very real. And we DO all have to do our part to shut it down.
But I think we can all agree they’re not making things easier on us when they do a head-spinning turnaround on one of their BIGGEST and MOST IMPORTANT pieces of advice yet.
And at this point, you can’t help but wonder…
Do masks offer protection, or don’t they? Can homemade masks make a difference or not?
So today, I’m going to share with you the unvarnished truth about masks. And I’ll explain what we know (and don’t know) about whether or not they can offer any protection from the coronavirus.
Can a MASK protect you from COVID-19?
Early in the pandemic, they said people shouldn’t buy masks. We were told to NOT wear them because they “don’t work.” And they warned us to not hoard them.
So you may have been surprised when weeks later we had a serious mask shortage in our hospitals and the same authorities started begging people to donate masks.
Healthcare workers need them for PROTECTION, they explained.
Now, the CDC is going even further, saying ALL of us should wear some kind of face covering whenever we go out. And given the shortage of protective masks (especially N95 masks), they’re now urging folks to use homemade cloth masks.
It’s the exact kind of about-face that can cause folks to distrust mainstream health authorities. And that can be a real problem right now when we all need to make sure we’re on the same page.
So let me clear the air when it comes to masks. Despite what we were being told early on, professional surgical masks have always worked, especially N95 masks. They do offer a certain amount of protection when used correctly.,
And it’s not just against coronavirus, but also run of the mill flu and other germs.
In fact, in some countries, it’s perfectly normal to see people wearing commercial-grade masks during cold and flu season. They do it both to help protect themselves as well as to protect others.
They’ve never been a guarantee against passing an illness along, of course. But studies from before this latest coronavirus show they may help reduce some spread. This is especially important in case you’re asymptomatic, so you don’t even know you are sick.
The truth about homemade masks
So what now? Well, without real masks in the supply chain, a homemade mask is better than nothing. But to be honest, in most cases not by much.
And while you SHOULD still wear one, if you were to walk into a closed room where someone is sick, and the virus is in the air, you likely won’t get a whole lot of protection.
But there IS one kind of homemade mask that may offer more protection against certain bugs. A study by Cambridge University found that a tea towel or kitchen towel is far more effective at stopping germs than the shirts and scarves that most people are using right now.
And if you double up… if you use TWO tea towels… you can get almost as much protection as you would from a surgical mask.*
Now keep in mind this was NOT tested against the COVID-19 coronavirus, but rather two other microbes.
So there’s no telling if those study results will hold true here. But there is a chance that if someone with the virus is coughing and sneezing, some larger droplets with the bug could be contained.
The bottom line is no matter whether your mask is made of a shirt… a dishrag… or two tea towels… don’t let your guard down. Use extreme caution when going out and avoid contact with others as much as you possibly can.
*UPDATE: A brand new study has revealed that a nylon stocking layer could boost the effectiveness of cloth masks. Researchers at Northeastern University found that adding an outer layer of the material to the homemade masks filtered significantly more small particles out of the air. In fact, the layer was so effective several of the masks tested performed as well as, or better, than professional 3M surgical masks.
*UPDATE 7/2020: A new study finds three layers is optimal for a homemade mask. The researcher used a high-speed camera an special lighting system, to capture talking, sneezing, and coughing in a one layer, two layer, and three layer masks. The three layer mask was the most effective at reducing the number of airborne droplets the person emitted. The two ply did a decent job at reducing cough and sneeze related droplets. And the one layer only gave a little protection when the person wearing it was just speaking.