|Never done this? Then, like 90+% of those who bought N95s (when you still|
could), you have no idea if yours works right for you. But you'll find out with
a live-fire test with Kung Flu, any day now. Well-played.
A vivid, if unintentional, lesson in context from Borepatch's blog today, with a side-order of why Twatter isn't a good source for anything requiring more than 280 characters or two brain cells.
“Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS!” the surgeon general, Jerome M. Adams, said in a tweet on Saturday morning. “They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”
Now, either the masks don't help and there's no point in anyone wearing them or they do help and the surgeon general wants to keep available stocks for health care workers. It cannot be both. But if this is the response from the surgeon general, you can stick a fork in it.
When one oversimplifies, it can become an unintentional lie of omission.
An N95 mask is worthless if you haven't been fit-tested to assure it works for you. (And for 25-33% of people right off the bat, it doesn't). For probably 90% of everyone ever, that's shocking news they never knew.
An N95 (or anything else) won't work if you have facial hair that blocks a tight seal.
It requires a bit more than just slapping one on to use it properly.
That knowledge applies to 0% of the general public. If you did time with Uncle Sam, you had it beaten into you vividly during a visit probably annually - to the tear gas chamber with your M17 or M40
series protective mask. Last I looked, prior service applies to something like 3% of the general population. Be generous, and double that info for those who deal with PPE every day at work.
So 90-95% of people have no effing clue about any of this.
That's why it's beyond asinine for Joe Average to get a pallet-load of the things, when he doesn't know Jack or Squat about what's what or why or how or anything else.
You might as well buy him a slide rule, FFS.
I have to get fit-tested every year. When people pilfered the hospital's entire supply of N95 masks last month (yes, really), everyone in the hospital had to get fit-tested again with the new brand. Anyone who was a fail with either brand had to have alternative PPE available to substitute. And we all undergo about three hour's refresher training annually in all the PPE we use, up to and including fully-encapsulated hazmat gear.
So, how much of that have you done? (For most any value of "you", not the OP or bloghost there).
Probably zero seconds, ever, other than buying the box.
And you (times 330M of you) buying up metric buttloads of masks that you don't know how to wear properly, and which may be utterly worthless because of zero training in proper wear, whiskerpuss, or poor fit, and made extra-scarce by China seizing the 3M plant that makes the go-to model in China, and declaring all N95s made there a "strategic national resource" unavailable for exportation until further notice, means there are that many less available for purchase by every hospital in the U.S., for use by the people that need them, and know WTF they're doing.
Now, knowing the rest of the story, go back and read the SG's comments in context.
Because I saw his media appearances, and that's how it was presented by the better media outlets. If you're looking for Twatter to fully inform you, you're short-changing your brain. (Whether anyone on Twatter has one in the first place is an open question. Little worthwhile is conveyed in 280 characters. Great for punchlines for those with tiny minds, but for conveying news you can use, not so much.)
Let's try to tell the tale better than FakeNews, shall we?
Otherwise we're just CNN-lite.
And surgical masks do, indeed, protect other people from your germs. That's why they're cleverly called "surgical masks", and why we slap them on everybody coughing and sneezing in the ER, and why they're worthless as PPE, except to everyone else, to mitigate your slobber and sneeze particles flying everywhere.
N95s and better, by total contrast and design, are specifically to protect the wearer from other people's funk. TB, measles, Ebola, and Kung Flu, for specific examples.
And at least one commenter already posting there didn't know that fundamental difference in PPE, because it's outside their knowledge base.
The surgeon general was spot-on, and his comments and those at the OP illustrate the problem perfectly.
This is the same reason buying any medical gear, or really just about anything, without knowing WTF you're doing with it, isn't helping anyone, least of all yourselves.
If you're going to buy gear, you have to learn how to use it properly.
Gear alone is just stuff.
Gear + training = prepared.
gear + training + experience = gold-star prepared.
Let's deal with this the right way.
Lacking the context of someone "in the biz", I understand why anyone could have missed the bigger picture, and don't expect for a minute poster ASM826 (who ocassionally comments here) meant to misinform anyone. And his further comments in the same post regarding the likely course of spread of this infection remain spot-on, IMHO. As usual, RTWT. There's a reason that blog is on my bloglist.
It also illustrates why, for most people, PPE is a dumb idea, and why you should be focusing on avoidance and self-quarantine, not trying to half-ass how to wade out amidst it. The shortage of N95s will probably save more lives than if we had them in abundance. Just like with Ebola, where 1 in 3 commenters wanted to know how to go out into it and come back home, and God forbid, just like it would be in any CBRN or hazmat event. You can buy a fire truck and an SCBA. It does not therefore make you a firefighter.
If, OTOH, you managed to get N95s before they mostly became unobtanium, make sure yours works, fits, and you know how to use and wear it. Better yet, don't go out and play in it if you can help it in the first place. Otherwise, I'll see you in the ER. I have to play in it. You don't.
Don't listen to what I've told you about Kung Flu.
Go read John Mosby's take on his Patreon site.
If you're inclined, sign up, and throw the guy a bone.
There's a reason his site is on my bloglist too.