The case for wearing a mask…be like Japan
Wearing a mask in public should be viewed as a badge of honor.
In Japan wearing a mask outdoors has been almost universal since the outbreak of the Coronavirus. The Japanese people have been using masks for a long period of time when they get colds or are concerned about passing on an infection.
Mask usage in many Asian countries is embraced yet shunned here in America and Europe. When people in many Asian countries have cold they wear a mask and are not embarrassed by it. If we wear a mask in public, the natural reaction is negative. That perception should change. The view now in northern Italy is one of dismay if you are in public without a mask. Look at the picture below from Japan. They are wearing masks. Please wear a mask as your badge of honor and protect those around you.
If only our faces turned bright purple as soon as infected
But they don’t. You may be infected and you don’t know it. Up to 20% or more of us are infected and don’t know we are infected. That is the most important aspect of the spread of Covid-19. Asymptomatic people can spread the virus just by breathing. If our faces turned purple and our hair would glow in the dark as soon as we got infected we would stop the spread, but we don’t have that luxury of easily identifying who is infected. So protect yourself and others by wearing a mask.
Wearing a mask helps healthcare providers. How? If less of us get sick it reduces healthcare provider’s workload. Let’s reduce the workload together. Wear a mask.
Make a mask, wear a mask today
We miss a huge opportunity to make a difference by not using a mask when in public with other people or grocery shopping or traveling on public transportation.
Thank you to Federal and State Government Leadership for all your work. I have no doubt about the sincerity of our President and the federal and state governments and leaders to do the right thing, but please look at the data I have assembled please advise us all: to make a mask wear a mask.
Here are the Numbers
As of March 31, 2020, in the United States we have reached 183,572 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 Coronavirus infection with 3,668 deaths. The first case was reported January 20, 2020 in Washington State and the second was not reported until February 28, 2020. In New York the first case was reported on March 1, 2020 and less than a month later New York has 83,712 confirmed cases and 1,941 deaths due to the virus. In Japan, the first case was reported January 16, 2020 and as of March 31, 2020 Japan has 2,228 confirmed cases Japan has a population of 126 million versus the United States population of 329 million. That’s right all of Japan has 126 million people versus the state of New York 19.5 million people. On a per capita basis New York State has 243 times as many cases and that is just in the last month. At the beginning of March we had 42 confirmed cases in the USA compared to 254 cases in Japan. What are we doing differently? How can we change direction? How can we save lives of the population and our healthcare workers?
Look at the data from USA, Japan, South Korea and Czech Republic
|South Korea cases|
|Czech Republic cases (% inc)|
The numbers don’t lie. We are on track to have a similar outcome to Italy. If we change our behavior we can get on track to get our data in line with the experience of those countries that have been wearing masks since Covid-19 made its appearance.
Call to Action: President Trump, Dr. Brix and Dr. Fauci, CDC and Federal, State and Local leaders please recommend we all wear masks.
Please look at the data and adopt the needed changes to slow the spread.
My Recommendations and suggestions to help stop the spread:
- Make a mask and wear a mask.
- Keep surgical grade masks available for Doctors, Nurses and other healthcare workers who are working to save lives.
- Follow the direction of the White House leadership and listen carefully to Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Brix. In addition, follow the leadership of the state where you reside.
- Wear a mask when you are outdoors and will be in the presence of other people that are not part of your group. Also, wear a mask when indoors at all places other than your home. If we assume that we could be carriers and those we come in contact with could also be carriers by wearing a mask we are protecting them and protecting us and ultimately protecting Healthcare workers.
- All employees at grocery stores and food handlers should wear masks.
- Everyone going to a grocery store should wear a mask.
- Only shop every 7-10 days and get enough food and supplies to last you that length of time.
More Reading and Background information below:
First COVID-19 Cases USA, Japan and South Korea mid-January 2020 South Korea
South Korea confirmed its first case January 21, 2020. South Korea has 55 million people. The new case rate in South Korea showed significant improvement in flattening the curve over the last 30 days.
To put these number of cases in perspective the Coronavirus was confirmed in all 3 countries around January 20, 2020. Since that time, in spite of tremendous work on behalf residents by the State and Federal Governments here in the United States we have a greater percentage of cases than both Japan and South Korea. What are they doing that has shown such a difference?
USA confirmed cases 30 times greater than Japan and growing (per capita)
Our social distancing measures, limiting travel, closing of sit down restaurants have helped slow the virus but we have not made the headway to stop the spread we would like. Dr. Fauci said March 31, 2020 that we could see the death toll reach 100,000-240,000 people in this country. That is unacceptable. We need to do more. Wear a mask.
What we know about how the virus spreads is important for us to understand if we are going to control the spread.
You may be infected and spreading the virus and don’t know it
Many people never get symptoms or before symptoms appear are infectious and can pass the virus onto others. Japanese researchers looked at the 634 passengers who tested positive for COVID-19 on the Diamond Princess Cruise ship. They found that 17.9% of these passengers were asymptomatic. This is a major reason we are having difficulty in tracing the spread and the contacts. How do we stop the spread from asymptomatic infected individuals?
The Covid-19 virus can live on surfaces for up to 1-3 days depending on the surface, thus frequent hand washing and limiting touch exposure to potentially unclean surfaces is important for us not to infect ourselves nor spread it to others.
Breathing spreads Covid-19 not just coughing or sneezing
We also know the virus is spread by coughing and sneezing but it is also spread by breathing. The virus attaches itself to moisture droplets that we exhale and can provide a viral load that may infect others, that is probably the most important mode of transmission. You can verify the moisture in your breath just by breathing into the palm of your hand and feeling it with your finger.
The Covid-19 virus is 200 nanometers in diameter, it is small. To understand just how small it is, 900 Covid-19 viruses can sit side by side on a single hair. Millions of Covid-19 viruses are present in water droplets we breathe out with each breath. The Covid-19 virus can’t live by itself, it needs us to survive. It sits on surfaces for up to 3 days hoping someone will pick it up so it can survive. If we get a viral load some of the Covid-19 virus will take hold by infecting our cells. Many of us will get sick but some may get it and not have symptoms. Covid-19 wants to keep itself alive so it tricks some of us by not giving us symptoms and so passes unsuspected onto its next person (host).
Masks are correctly prioritized to Healthcare workers
If we wear a mask and prevent a serious infection, we are helping healthcare workers.
The message of saving masks for the Nurses, Doctors and other healthcare providers is an important message for the public. We need them healthy to take care of us when we become ill with the virus.
However, that doesn’t mean that the public shouldn’t wear a mask. It just means we shouldn’t be taking a mask from a healthcare provider.
Because we don’t take away masks from healthcare providers does not mean they are ineffective for the rest of the population. The message that the public may increase their risk of infection by wearing a mask is a false narrative.
Bottom line: If we wear a mask and limit spread or reduce our risk of getting infected we are reducing the workload of healthcare providers.