UPDATE 4/6/20: When this was first published a week ago, a) nobody was wearing masks, and b) the US government was advising that nobody should wear masks. Things change quickly these days. EssaySnark vows to continue doing what we can to provide actionable, current information on this situation when you need it, to help you stay ahead of this crisis and make plans. Now? Everyone is hopefully wearing masks — not because EssaySnark told them to, but our point is that we’re working diligently to keep you informed in a rational way based on science and facts, and are trying to be on top of all aspects so that you can make better decisions on how to live your life in this difficult time.
The American public has gotten bum information. We should be wearing masks.
Not the medical-grade masks that doctors, nurses, and first responders need. Not the N95s. Just fabric masks.
Heck, wearing a bandana would be good enough.
The social distancing with everyone working from home is a critical step, and if you have any doubts about whether you should be staying home or not, err on the side of staying home. The main reason you should consider leaving the house is if you work in healthcare or a similar truly essential sector. Honestly, everyone staying home and respecting the shelter-in-place orders is the way for each of us to contribute our part at this stage of the crisis.
You will inevitably need to emerge from your cave at some point, in order to replenish the stash of Twinkies and Doritoes and White Claws, and when you do: WEAR A MASK.
You can easily make your own mask out of an old t-shirt. Cut it up, fold it in half so it’s a double layer of protection, and tie it over your nose and mouth. You can toss it in the trash when you get home again, or put it in the laundry and wash it in hot.
Wear gloves, too, and throw those away immediately, and then wash your hands right away. Be extra careful at the gas pump, right?
This mask thing… It’s not something being done here in the States yet, and it’s a real missed opportunity to get ahead of this thing. People don’t wear masks because a) initially we were told that we only needed to wear them if we were sick, to prevent spreading to others, and b) we think they look silly.
The (a) reason was because of the shortage of masks, and the public health officials decided that one way to make sure that the public didn’t hoard medical-grade masks was to officially tell people that masks are not needed.
But guess what?
If you are not infected and you wear a mask, it reduces your risk of contracting it. Yes, EssaySnark is well aware that the virus is super tiny, and that the weave in the cotton blend of that old t-shirt that we’re telling you to put on your face is big enough for a virus to pass through. But it will still prevent droplets from an infected person’s cough from landing on you and getting inhaled. The mask is a good idea. Honest and for real.
The thing is: If you’re the only one wearing a mask, you’re likely to feel self-conscious and stupid. That’s why all of us need to start wearing masks. If we normalize it as a society, then wearing a mask will become the polite thing, that all the civilized people do. That’s how it is in many parts of China now. If you’re not wearing a mask in certain social circles, you’re chastised and seen as careless or rude. It’s an etiquette thing.
That needs to be how it is here in the U.S. But it won’t happen over time, because we think masks look weird.
At least, most of us do today. But would you rather look weird, or catch coronavirus?
So our PSA for today is: PLEASE WEAR A MASK.
Source: Scientists and public health experts .
If you’re feeling crafty: How to make a face mask
Who’s with us? Who’s willing to look silly in the name of getting all of us through this faster?
EDIT: Be sure to check out the clarification offered from a smart commenter on the difference between “masks” and “respirators” which is apparently what the N95 things technically are — and a day later from when this was published, we’re now seeing some media outlets calling for us to simply use “face coverings” which looks like an attempt to differentiate them from the PPE that medical professionals only should be using. Basically what all of this means is, you don’t need anything fancy! Fabric face coverings are fine!