I’ve prepared, well in advance. I’m not worried about me.
I’ve waited for the CDC and the W.H.O. to “catch up”. They still haven’t.
I’ve waited for the deaths to hit the 5 figure mark to have folks “catch clue”, they haven’t.
I’ve waited for our political “leaders” to stop reactively following and proactively lead. They have not.
It is time to stop waiting.
This is an absolutely critical and primary point that drives all other necessary behaviour.
We know this virus spread asymptomatically. About 30% of cases tested in South Korea were asymptomatic. The video below cites a study that found 86% of cases were spread asymptomatically. Let that sink in a moment. Most of the new cases are coming from that smaller portion of folks who have no symptoms. Checking temperatures and asking folks how they feel will NOT stop this. It is ESSENTIAL to stop asymptomatic spreading. The W.H.O. and CDC advice to not test folks with minor symptoms is not only wrong, it completely ignores the asymptomatic transmission path that is THE largest part of the problem. The W.H.O. and CDC advice to NOT have people wear masks ignores THE MAJOR PATH OF INFECTION, the asymptomatic spreader.
As long as asymptomatic spreading is not address, the exponential growth WILL continue and all other attempts at mitigation and preparation will be swamped by the exponential growth. We’ve seen that in Italy and New York and Spain already.
Today in Los Angeles, 4 grocery store workers tested positive for Covid-19. That means they DO have symptoms or they would not have been tested. Now, not only were they infective for several days before they got tested, but their number implies at least one more fully asymptomatic person (and possibly 2) are still in the store and “sharing”. How many hundred people a day are in spitting distance of the register clerk? How about their food? In that context, any spreader will act as a superspreader. With a mask on them, they would be spreading far far less. Mask and gloves and glasses even better. Put the same gear on the customer and the clerk is spared, so then does not turn into a superspreader in the first place.
Which costs more, 4 masks, or 100 people infected, 20 in the hospital, 5 in the ICU and one dead?
Grocery store clerks do not need N95 masks, a simple cloth mask and gardening gloves are enough to slow spreading dramatically.
Masks are not to stop YOU from getting the disease (though they do help a lot even if you are unfamiliar with how to use them); they are to STOP THE SPREADING by folks with the disease. Not just their spit “droplets” in your face, but all the places they fall and form fomites (spots of infection) on things like keypads and counters. (And cans of beans…)
The W.H.O. and CDC are lying to you. They are saying “These are not the masks you are looking for” because they want to reserve them for medical staff. That is both stupid and short sighted. One medical staff will need to use dozens of masks to treat one patient. Standard protocol is to change every time you move to a new patient, and again when you return. A single mask on an infected checkout clerk can prevent 100 patients. PREVENTION is more important that trying to catch up with exponential growth of cases later. You WILL lose the exponential race and you WILL have no PPE left for the medical staff in short order if you play that game long enough.
“Social Distancing” is a very poor replacement for a mask. We know that the virus can travel as far as 4.5 meters, or about 15 feet, as an aerosol and infect another passenger as that was demonstrated in a bus in China (complete video record from the police state). Better than “Social distancing” would be a face mask, even a simple surgical mask or even a bandanna over the face, and “social distancing”.
Masks Work. EVERY country that has beaten back the virus has had a policy of “everyone wears a mask”. Often just a simple surgical mask. Sometimes KN95 masks (near as I can tell, no valve). Rarely N95 quality. This says even minor mask quality can be highly valuable in “flattening the curve”.
Home sewn masks can be up to N85 using a section of vacuum cleaner bag as an insert, just a little less than N95 and much better than surgical masks. These are not hard to make and can be washed and reused, or heat kill the virus particles with a 30 minute soak in an over 170 F degree oven (i.e. just over warm).
There are many examples and directions on the internet. Even just a folded bandanna, like in the old Western Movies, helps. The CDC has a DIY design, but it is primitive and ugly in comparison to those designed by We The People (and don’t work as well either…)
This one complains about ad blockers, but is IMHO better, and includes the pattern:
Do they work?
This study examined homemade masks as an alternative to commercial face masks. Several household materials were evaluated for the capacity to block bacterial and viral aerosols. Twenty-one healthy volunteers made their own face masks from cotton t-shirts; the masks were then tested for fit. The number of microorganisms isolated from coughs of healthy volunteers wearing their homemade mask, a surgical mask, or no mask was compared using several air-sampling techniques. The median-fit factor of the homemade masks was one-half that of the surgical masks. Both masks significantly reduced the number of microorganisms expelled by volunteers, although the surgical mask was 3 times more effective in blocking transmission than the homemade mask. Our findings suggest that a homemade mask should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2013;0:1-6).
That’s about the most trivial mask you can make, just cotton T-shirts. No vacuum cleaner bag insert. No waterproof facing material. (One lady wanted a water proof outer layer so used an old umbrella for the cloth for the outer layer). In other tests, the better fitting patterns (such as linked above) with nose wire and filter insert, scored N85.
So no excuse. Buy, beg, borrow or make a mask. Get some “shop glasses” and some gloves (garden rubber gloves work well as do dish gloves, but I’ve got a box of regular latex gloves from the auto parts store). Glove up, glasses on, and mask makes you ready to face the world. Don’t leave home without them. And do learn how to fit the mask (bend wire to nose shape), and remove your gear without spreading anything from the outer surface to your skin or face. It isn’t hard, but does take some care:
Cleaning a DIY mask can be as simple as washing in hot water and soap, but for quicker re-use, you can put it in a paper bag in an oven heated to over 170 F for 1/2 hour.
As soon as I’ve left the store and I’m back at the car, I remove my gear and wash with rubbing alcohol. I keep a pint jar in my ‘car bag”. So PPE off (and into it’s bag) and then immediately pour a bit of alcohol into the cupped hand and rub them together. Then wait for it to evaporate. I do this over a paper towel to catch the dribbles, and then use it to wipe down my shop glasses. When I get home, shoes stay on the porch and shirt / pants into the washer. Hands again washed with hot water and soap before new outer layer goes on…
Proactive not Reactive
Interviews with Governors of States today had them all fretting over getting thousands of ventilators. Why not avoid the need for the ventilators in the first place? Have anyone in a service position wear a mask. Have the customers wear a mask. IF, despite that, some of them get sick, treat them early and aggressively with hydroxychloroquine, zinc, and azithromycin that has been shown in about 500 patients to result in zero intubations.
Preamble ends and content begins at about 1:40 in:
There is nothing so useless to an upper executive sort as a report that says “I need this much $$$ to prevent a problem nobody sees”. Almost as useless is one that says “I did these things, that stopped this particular attack, that nobody saw”. Upper Management LOVES the catastrophe where they can grandstand, blame it on someone else, and can be shown “leading the charge” in reacting to it.
Watching various Governors press conferences today, that was what they all did. Not One said anything at all about prevention other than a request for better “social distancing”. Nothing on decontaminating surfaces. Nothing on stopping flights or hard quarantine of hard hit areas. In fact. Cuomo of New York threatened to sue Rhode Island for doing the right thing and finding and informing New York Refugees that they need to self isolate and quarantine for 14 days.
So, necessary conclusion: Many, if not all, Governors of States will be REACTIVE not PROACTIVE and will be most focused on how to “never let a crisis go to waste” as opposed to “crisis kept away”. It will be up to the individual Counties, Cities, and individuals to keep the crisis from their door.
It is essential to be PROACTIVE, not just reactive. This is an exponential curve, driven by unseen asymptomatic spreading, and it has a 2 to 3 week lag time from the damage starting to your being aware of that damage. By Definition, you will always be 1/2 to a full month behind in your reactions. That is lethal. Literally.
Instead, asses the opponent. Figure out what they were doing 3 weeks ago, and react to that, even while right now you act to preven tit doing anything more.
While the whole hand sterilizer and hand washing thing is nice and all, the best thing you can do is to avoid the need. Do not go out and contact any person or surface if you can avoid it. Couch Potato is King! This is your moment. Pop a can and sit on the sofa and binge watch 8 seasons of your favourite show. Then do it again.
It isn’t “hoarding”, it is “reducing my exposures”. IF you have not already laid in a month or two of supplies, next time you go shopping, try to get as close to one month worth as you can. Buying one a month instead of one a week cuts to 1/4 your exposures to potentially superspreader clerks and other customers. Shop at the lowest occupancy hours.
IF you must go out: Wear a mask, glasses or goggles, gloves, and something you can immediately wash when you get home. When you get home, take the kit off (and put it somewhere you can decontaminate), and go take a hot soapy shower. Wash your clothes, spray sanitizer of some sort on your shoes, and either dispose / replace your mask and gloves or sanitize them. (Those that are heat proof can be put in a paper bad in the oven on the lowest setting under 200 F for an hour, or if water proof washed with alcohol).
The first time you are the only person covered in kit it is a bit uncomfortable as people look at you oddly. By the end of that outing you realize it is because they are worried and you are not, then you become comfortable.
I take 2000 IU of Vitamin D, 2000 mg of Vit C, some Vit E, and a zinc tablet. Why? They all increase immune function and it’s decent odds they will reduce the severity of any disease if all else fails.
States & Counties & Cities (oh my!)
THE first step is “reduce inbound cases”. While a hard border with the National Guard would be best, anything you can do along that line is a help. What attractions do you have? Shut them down. Beaches, theatres, gambling, conventions, sporting events, coin collector meetings, whatever. While this is mostly in place already, keep it in mind when things “come off”.
Model good behaviour. Here we have all these press meetings and not a single mask in sight. Barely “social distancing” on the dais from the assemble staff. We were treated to the spectacle of Boris Johnson having the group greet right up until almost the end and now he is in isolation with Covid-19 infection and his staff is having Pressers with a video monitory press core and the podiums all 2 meters apart. Late AND sorry? Yet still no masks…
So hold your pressers with mask on, gloves on, and someone on film clearly decontaminating podium and microphone.
STOP BEING JUST REACTIVE.
Look at what WILL BE in 3 weeks, then figure out how to stop that. Tell the folks to do that thing, not just “wash up and fart at your neighbour”.
Spend at least as much time asking “How can we avoid needing ventilators?” as asking “How do I get exponentially more?”
Ask “What antiviral drugs have been tested and which of them stop folks from needing ventilators?”.
Ask “how much would requiring some kind of mask in public reduce infection rates?”. And if the answer is “We don’t know”, then you know where your blind spot is, now don’t you?
Run PSAs on how to make n85 masks from drapes, T-shirts, pillow cases, old umbrellas, and vacuum cleaner bags (all have in fact been used to good effect).
Test Test TEST! Not just folks with symptoms. Their family, and friends, co-workers, customers. A mile circle around where they live and work. FIND those asymptomatic spreaders and get them out of the pool. Each one of them is worth about 100 hospital beds, 20 ICU beds and their ventilators, and one funeral.
Look at the places that have been successful. Model on them. What do they all have in common? MASKS. Widespread testing. Contact tracing. Hard quarantines.
Then, remember that it is important to “know your enemy”. This Dr. knows it well and is willing to tell you about it:
And for God’s Sake find a way to put masks on all the checkout clerks at any stores you leave open and on all the folks preparing and delivering food and other packages to homes.
For Everyone: Do not trust China
They lied from the start. Told us (and the W.H.O.) it was not human to human transmissible while ordering their client company / agents to hoover up all medical supplies they could world wide; and now they are shipping defective PPE Personal Protective Equipment to us. They are NOT your friends. They are actively acting like an enemy in a socio-economic war.
I bought 3 N95 masks about a month ago at the local Home Depot. I was told that I was lucky to get them (shelf almost empty) as a Chinese guy had come in and bought all they had. This is a global action on their part to remove protective equipment from us and send it to China. Now, their “help” is defective. Think about it.
If you are a person using a Chinese respirator, validate that the valve works, please. Verify your gear.
Includes interesting video from India along with coverage of nations who have received and returned defective PPE product and testing kits from China:
Until you have PSA Public Service Announcements telling you to wear a mask, and the grocery clerk is wearing mask (and hopefully glasses) AND the regular press reports for the President and Governors are modeling “social distancing”, shared surface decontamination, and masks: You are NOT being protected by Government above you, and it is up to you to protect yourself.
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