You want to hear from people you haven’t heard from in years?
Post something… ANYTHING… about masks on Facebook right now. Folks will come crawling out of the woodwork with some very strongly worded opinions.
Who would’ve guessed that a twelve-inch piece of cloth would ever cause so much fuss? But lots of things are different these days.
I get it. There’s a lot we don’t know when it comes to the coronavirus. That includes all the ways it spreads and the best ways to stop it.
But don’t be roped into the debate over masks. Because there’s also a lot, we do know. The studies are piling up. And now new research just out confirms once again that there shouldn’t be any debate at all.
Because even a simple homemade mask… one you made from towels or t-shirts… can deliver REAL protection when it matters most.
What wearing MASKS could do for YOU
You know all about the six-foot social-distancing rule, of course. But what many people don’t realize is that six feet is more a rule-of-thumb deal than an actual safety zone.
The fact is, you CAN be exposed to the coronavirus from more than six feet away. That’s especially true when someone is speaking or coughing, which causes respiratory droplets to travel even further.
So the new study – using both real people and a dummy that can “cough” particles – tested out masks vs. no masks at different distances.
Incredibly they found that standing WITH a mask just 1.6 feet from someone coughing… so basically right in the “splash zone”… is actually safer than standing more than 6 feet away WITHOUT one.
In the study, being 6.5 feet away without a mask led to 10,000 times more exposure to the “large particles” of a cough than standing 1.6 feet away with one.
Even the cheapest cotton mask – one single layer which is essentially a t-shirt over your face – cut the number of large droplets by more than 1,000 times. In other words, it looks like wearing a mask doesn’t JUST protect others. It could very well help protect YOU too.
Give yourself an edge against coronavirus
Large droplets are some of the worst offenders when it comes to spreading the coronavirus, especially those from coughing since they travel further and may contain more of the virus. And masks can block 99.9 percent of them.
But they aren’t the only ones we need to worry about, of course. There are also much smaller particles and aerosols that pose a serious threat too.
Smaller particles can sometimes hang in the air for longer periods. And masks are LESS effective against them. They can block some but not all of those tinier bits.
Just don’t be fooled into thinking less effective means they’re ineffective or useless. Because even a partially effective mask can REDUCE the amount of coronavirus that reaches your airways. And that’s critical.
Scientists at UC San Francisco say that having a smaller load of the virus during an initial exposure essentially gives your immune system an edge.
When a lot of virus comes in, your immune system can be quickly overwhelmed. It can’t handle all the virus – so it replicates faster, and you get sicker… possibly critically ill.
But when you’re hit with a smaller load, your immune system may be able to wage a better fight against the virus. It could even wipe it out before you even realize you’re carrying it. The result could be a shorter, much less severe infection or even no symptoms at all.
And as that other study shows, the key to a smaller viral load could be wearing a simple mask.
So don’t get caught up in the debates, and definitely don’t mention it on Facebook if you value your sanity. But if you go out, DO wear a mask. It’s a small inconvenience that comes with a potentially priceless reward.