I don’t go out of the house at all except for essentials. But when I do, you’re damned right I take all the precautions I can, considering the high risk that my wife has as a transplant patient. That includes re-using a mask I kept from a clinic visit at the beginning of the month and disinfecting it between uses, for the same reasons Allahpundit noted in the previous post. The CDC needs to catch up — and according to the Washington Post, they might, now that supplies will start catching up to demand:
In recent days, more people have taken to covering their faces, although it remains a scattershot strategy driven by personal choice. The government does not recommend it.
That may change. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are considering altering the official guidance to encourage people to take measures to cover their faces amid the coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post has learned.
CDC guidance on masks remains under development, according to a federal official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it is an ongoing matter of internal discussion and nothing has been finalized. The official said the new guidance would make clear that the general public should not use medical masks — including surgical and N95 masks — that are in desperately short supply and needed by health-care workers.
Instead, the recommendation under consideration calls for using do-it-yourself cloth coverings, according to a second official who shared that thinking on a personal Facebook account. It would be a way to help “flatten the curve,” the official noted.
This is hardly a novel idea. Mask-wearing in public has been a common practice in Asian countries since the SARS outbreak nearly twenty years ago. Preventing a run on masks might have been good policy in the moment, but as America tries to reopen its public squares, face masks offer at least some protection against transmission even if it doesn’t prevent it entirely.
When COVID-19 first came to the US, the CDC warned against the idea, perhaps mainly because of the low supply of masks and the desperate need to reserve them for hospitals and clinics. Now that the supply might ramp up, former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb advised the Trump administration to reconsider its guidance in a proposal released yesterday. At his daily coronavirus briefing, Trump told reporters that he’d consider it as a short-to-medium term measure to encourage economic revival. “We’re not going to be wearing masks forever,” Trump cautioned. “We want our country back”:
ABC News reported that Asian health authorities warn Americans that they are waiting too long to adopt mask wearing. The World Health Organization disputes that advice, while Dr. Anthony Fauci says the real issue on this is just supply, not effectiveness:
The WHO’s opposition to this is odd, to say the least. This respiratory infection transmits exactly in the manner noted by Asian epidemiologists, and masks are at least some protection against it. If the supply issue is solved — and production is ramping up — then it makes sense to use them in public, at least until treatments and then vaccines are made universally available.
While it’s not widely common here in Minnesota, I see a few people wearing them each of the rare times I go out at all. My wife is high risk for COVID-19 because of her organ transplant immune suppression, so I take a series of precautions when going outside or bringing items into the house. I had a mask from an urgent-care visit a month ago still in the house, so I spray it with an alcohol solution and let it dry before going out, and mask up wherever I go. When that mask no longer works, I have a couple of other masks from previous painting tasks that I can — and will — use when needed. It’s not perfect, but it at least offers one more level of defense. I am not going to choose not to defend myself simply because WHO thinks the perfect is the enemy of the perhaps-good-enough, or at least the can’t-hurt.
Get ready for face masks to become the fashion statement of 2020, especially when America first readies its Grand Re-Opening. The sooner, the better.