Masks Save Lives. Too Bad There Aren’t More of Them.

Editor's note: If you appreciate posts like this and want ANC to continue publishing similar content, become a paid subscriber for as little as $1.35 a month.

The novel coronavirus pandemic in the United States will be remembered in part as an era of shortages. A shortage of ventilators to treat patients in severe respiratory distress. A lack of testing that permitted COVID-19 to spread unchecked across the country. A healthcare system that couldn’t protect its own workers from coronavirus, let alone the general public, thanks to a personal protection equipment (PPE) shortage.

The lack of initial coronavirus testing and the shortage of medical grade face masks in the United States stand out because the opposite—widespread testing and mass distribution of face masks to the general public—have helped “flatten the curve” of coronavirus in China, South Korea, Taiwan and other Asian countries, even as the curve exploded exponentially in the United States and Europe.

In fact, George Gao, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, recently told Science Magazine that the Western world’s biggest mistake so far was not requiring everyone to mask up.

“The big mistake in the U.S. and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks,” he said. “This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role—you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others.”

As we’re learning, when we make our essential trips to the grocery store and the pharmacy, we’re navigating an atmospheric river of lingering saliva streams, dribbling droplets and meandering microdroplets, some perhaps carrying coronavirus. That’s why I’ve been masking up for all my essential trips for the past three weeks.

I wear the preformed surgical mask above mainly to prevent myself from infecting others, should I happen to be an unknowing asymptomatic coronavirus carrier. The mask covers my mouth and nose and fits my face snugly, but it’s not airtight, which means coronavirus could get in or out. In the hierarchy of protective masks, it’s inferior to the airtight N-95 respirator models and superior to surgical cloth masks which are literally ranked “better than nothing.”

Vice President Mike Pence masked up, internet meme.

Last week, rumors swirled in the nation’s capital that President Donald Trump and the CDC were going to reverse course and advise all Americans to wear protective face mask in public. It would be quite the change in course. Prior CDC policy, now scrubbed from the website, stated:

“Wear a face mask if you are sick when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. … If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a face mask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a face mask). Face masks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.”

The guidance didn’t take into consideration that novel coronavirus can be spread by asymptomatic infected people. Critics have accused the CDC of sending a mixed message. Zeynep Tufekci lays it out nicely in her New York Times opinion piece, “Why Telling People They Don’t Need Masks Backfired:”

“First, many health experts, including the surgeon general of the United States, told the public simultaneously that masks weren’t necessary for protecting the general public and that health care workers needed the dwindling supply,” Tufekci writes. “This contradiction confuses an ordinary listener. How do these masks magically protect the wearers only and only if they work in a particular field?”

The answer is that masks work for everybody; healthcare workers, the new class of “essential” workers and the stay-at-home public alike, and can help flatten the coronavirus curve if enough people wear them and continue to practice social distancing and hand washing on their essential runs to the grocery store and the pharmacy.

The problem is there are not enough masks for everybody, specifically the quality surgical masks and N-95 respirators, thanks to panic-buyers, preppers, hoarders, price-gougers, poor pandemic planning and the collapse of the “just-in-time, made-in-China” supply chain.

Any hopes that Trump and the CDC would address the PPE shortage in a meaningful way were dashed Friday when the CDC released its new guidelines, “Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings, Especially in Areas of Significant Community-Based Transmission.”

The CDC’s basic gist is this: Do it yourself. It’s calling on all Americans to make their own cloth masks, out of whatever materials they have lying around. These homemade masks are inferior in protection compared to surgical masks and N-95 respirators, which, by the way, are now totally verboten.

“The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators,” state the new guidelines.  “Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.”

If you don’t want to wear a cloth mask, the commander-in-chief says you don’t have to. It’s not really a code. It’s just a guideline!

“I am choosing not to do it!” Trump said smugly at Friday’s daily coronavirus presser.

Presumably, the President’s instructions apply to choosing to wear a surgical mask or an N-95 respirator as well, despite being advised not to do so by the CDC.

At the time of this writing, there were 305,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States and 7600 deaths.

The author wearing the coveted N-95 respirator.

Last Wednesday during the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency’s virtual coronavirus press conference, I asked Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Ramstrom if the general public should wear masks when conducting their essential activities.

“I think we’re in this place where we’re looking at all options,” she said. “The more of these mitigation measures you can layer on top of each other, the more successful we’re going to be. I think if we had all of our dreams come true and we had a vast supply of surgical masks we would have every resident have one and wear them when they go out to have their basic needs met.”

Whenever a doctor mentions all our dreams coming true, she’s about to tell you why they aren’t.

Anyway, if all my dreams come true, everybody who wants to will be wearing an N-95 respirator or similar face mask when they’re out running their essential errands. When worn correctly, the N-95 forms an air-tight seal with the face and protects the wearer from inhaling particles as small as the coronavirus. They used to sell for under a dollar. Now they’re hard to find at any price.

“Unfortunately, we don’t [have enough masks for everyone] and we have to make sure we have supplies available for our health care providers to keep them safe as they’re taking care of all of us,” Ramstrom said.

That means the general public will have to find another source for masks. It’s time for some coronavirus entrepreneurs to step up, Ramstrom suggests.

“So, the idea is, are there other ways to have masks available that are not the kind that are approved through more formal channels for medical use?” she posited. “Whether they’re homemade or some innovative company comes along, and they make them?”

Dr. Ramstrom cautioned that masking up doesn’t make you a superhero. It’s just one more precaution in a long line of precautions, from handwashing to social distancing, necessary to stay six steps ahead of coronavirus.

“We have to make sure the users know that it [wearing a mask] does not replace social distancing,” she said. “All it does is add another layer of protection to the people around that individual, so you’re not sharing your potentially early symptoms and virus spread with the people around you.”

As of this writing, there are 20 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Shasta County, 418 people who’ve tested negative and three people who’ve died.

I’m hoping to ride out the Shasta County coronavirus curve with a half-dozen surgical masks and one N-95 respirator, which I’m going to recycle as many times as possible.

If we haven’t turned the corner by then, there’s always the elastomeric respirator pictured below. It’s supposedly better than the N-95 with renewable filters. I’m in this for the long run.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at RVScheide@anewscafe.com.
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

52 Responses

  1. Avatar Ed Marek says:

    R.V.

    In fact, under President Obama two separate initiatives to solve the problem of the (perceived) high costs of stockpiling massive numbers of N-95 masks were underway in 2016.

    Both of the potential solutions developed by the HHS under Obama, high-capacity standby production facilities, and reusable masks, were killed by the trump regime.

    Hey, the billions of dollars spent in recent years on our national monument to racism, the few miles built of the Great Wall of trump on our southern border, had to come from some of these wasteful liberal big-government programs…

    “Federal government spent millions to ramp up mask readiness, but that isn’t helping now

    In September 2018, the Trump administration received detailed plans for a new machine designed to churn out millions of protective respirator masks at high speed during a pandemic.

    The plans, submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by medical manufacturer O&M Halyard, were the culmination of a venture unveiled almost three years earlier by the Obama administration.

    But HHS did not proceed with making the machine.

    The project was one of two N95 mask ventures — totaling $9.8 million — that the federal government embarked on over the past five years to better prepare for pandemics.

    The other involves the development of reusable masks to replace the single-use variety currently so scarce that medical professionals are using theirs over and over. Expert panels have advised the government for at least 14 years that reusable masks were vital.

    That effort, like the quick mask machine, has not led to a single new mask for the government’s response…”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/federal-government-spent-millions-to-ramp-up-mask-readiness-but-that-isnt-helping-now/2020/04/03/d62dda5c-74fa-11ea-a9bd-9f8b593300d0_story.html?utm_campaign=wp_must_reads&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_mustreads

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Obama actually did an OK job on H1N1 , Ebola and Zika, especially in comparison to Trump, who botched his first flu epidemic 2017-18 by refusing to promote flu shots and now this coronacatastrophe. Trump in his fourth year of office would have us believe it’s Obama’s fault the CDC’s shelves are empty. He’s unaccountable.

      • Avatar Ed Marek says:

        Trump is not just “unaccountable”.

        He is irresponsible to the point of treason.

        In fact, Contradicting trump’s repeated claims the America was unprepared (and by some delusional reasoning this is the fault of the man who was last president in 2016) America was well prepared for COVID-19, ranked first in the world (out of 195 countries) for pandemic preparedness:

        “Welcome to the
        2019 Global Health Security Index

        The GHS Index is the first comprehensive assessment of global health security capabilities in 195 countries. Read more about the Index and the international panel that helped develop it, download the report and data model, and watch our introductory video…”

        https://www.ghsindex.org/

        We had the right planning and enough time to make extensive preparations for the pandemic, we just didn’t do anything.

        All of America’s pandemic defensive programs depended on the executive branch listening to our national intelligence reports, and put into action the response plans carefully prepared by our scientific and defense establishments.

        Instead, trump “listened to his gut” which told him a miracle was on the way, making all the carefully planned defensive measures unnecessary.

        And so, trump played golf, and America did NOTHING.

        “U.S. ‘wasted’ months before preparing for virus pandemic

        WASHINGTON — As the first alarms sounded in early January that an outbreak of a novel coronavirus in China might ignite a global pandemic, the Trump administration squandered nearly two months that could have been used to bolster the federal stockpile of critically needed medical supplies and equipment.

        A review of federal purchasing contracts by The Associated Press shows federal agencies waited until mid-March to begin placing bulk orders of N95 respirator masks, mechanical ventilators and other equipment needed by front-line health care workers.

        By that time, hospitals in several states were treating thousands of infected patients without adequate equipment and were pleading for shipments from the Strategic National Stockpile…

        Now, three months into the crisis, that stockpile is nearly drained just as the numbers of patients needing critical care is surging….

        “We basically wasted two months,” Kathleen Sebelius, health and human services secretary during the Obama administration, told AP…”

        https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/u-s-wasted-months-before-preparing-for-virus-pandemic

  2. Avatar christian gardinier says:

    R.V…. You’re looking good there buddy!
    Today from the Washington Post: U.S. hospitals are facing “severe” and widespread shortages of personal protective equipment, ventilators, testing supplies and staff, the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

    We can, and will, argue about how Trump and his administration (excluding Dr. Anthony S. Fauci…) completely failed in getting ready for this pandemic, and how his administration was aware of the likelihood of a pandemic brought on by a novel coronavirus years ago, predicting with startling accuracy shortages of masks, hospital beds and ventilators that could occur in an outbreak, according to a 2017 internal document reported by The Nation and as reported in the New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/19/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-outbreak.html. Fauci was worried about this years ago, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/fauci-warned-of-trump-pandemic-2017_n_5e8a0548c5b6e7d76c65c8a4 but Trump didn’t wan to hear about it.

    But, in the meantime, I have been wearing a mask for the last two weeks because I am so fortunate that my wife, a RNCR at a local hospital, is excellent at sewing! She tells me that there is also a bit of a shortage in mask making supplies but she has turned out about 15 so far.

    Does masking up mean we ignore stay-at-home or social distancing policy, meet up and party? Nope. Do masks completely prevent reception and transmission of COVID – 19? Nope. But hey, like our illustrious leader says, “I’m not going to wear one” but “What do you have to lose?”

    https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/04/health/how-to-make-your-own-mask-wellness-trnd/index.html
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/04/05/how-sew-your-own-fabric-mask/?arc404=true
    https://www.joann.com/how-to-make-a-face-mask/042188731P321.html
    https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Face-Mask-Projects/

    I wish I could sew!

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      “Nobody could have seen this coming.” Unless they read the reports saying this was coming.

  3. Avatar Barbara Stone says:

    As a mask maker who has done copious amounts of research on the subject in the past three weeks, one thing I cannot stress enough: the fabric masks that people are making HAVE TO BE WASHED BETWEEN USES! Wash it before you use it, and after each use. Wash them in HOT water and thoroughly dry them. That is why, depending on how often you go out, you need more than one.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Yes Barbara, definitely wash those cloth masks after each use, then wash your hands! I’m OK using the cloth mask as long as the crowds are minimal, but prefer the surgical mask when going to the pharmacy or the doctor’s office. It offers slightly better protection than the cloth mask.

  4. Avatar Richard Christoph says:

    R.V., thanks for this timely article.

    Thanks to my meticulous and well-organized wife, we were well armed with surgical masks, hand sanitizer, and latex gloves prior to flying to New Zealand on March 2nd, and made good use of them when returning from Auckland to SFO on March 25th. Now in day 11 of our 14-day strict quarantine, I’ll be masked when venturing out for our first grocery shopping early Thursday morning, and hope that others will be as well.

    The early recommendations from WHO and the CDC regarding the wearing of masks never seemed to fully account for the fact that COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory disease and seemed to minimize the ease of the virus spreading via the air. This somewhat abrupt policy reversal does not enhance public confidence that national leadership has a grasp of the current crisis. Not only are we “all in this together”
    but also “on our own” in terms of self-protection.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      The early “don’t wear a mask” sham was a response to the severe shortage of masks for use in medical settings. They were trying to dissuade us from grabbing up the scant supply caused by delusion and poor planning.

      It was American ingenuity that came up with making homemade masks that might at least do something. The Trump administration, later: “Yeah, do that—make your own masks. See? We got this covered.”

      The real take-home message is that we’re on our own. This government, in its current incarnation, has only hurt us and will continue to do so. Incompetence at the top doesn’t suddenly cure itself.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        The really sick thing that might just happen here is Trump just co-opted the DiY /Pintrest /entrepreneur demographic.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Richard, I remember watching the pictures coming in from China as the coronavirus exploded, everybody in the streets was wearing a mask, meanwhile authorities in the U.S. were saying you don’t need a mask. That didn’t add up. When I read how effective masking up had been in Asia, I started wearing a mask myself. I was downtown last Wednesday, WinCo was not crowded and about one-third of the people there were wearing masks, customers and employees. They were still out of flour!

  5. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    The proof of how badly Trump has mishandled the COVID-19 outbreak lies in contrasting it with South Korea’s success. The USA and South Korea had their first confirmed cases on the same day. South Korea mounted an all-out effort to develop tests, tested not only the sick but those who had been in contact with the sick, and promoted face mask use and rigorous social distancing.

    Total cases in South Korea to date: 10,284.
    Total South Korean deaths to date: 186

    Meanwhile, the United States under Trump’s leadership opted for downplaying, denial, and dragging ass.

    Total cases in the USA to date: 339,131
    Total USA deaths to date: 9,689

    It gets worse. South Korea is well over the hump—COVID-19 is largely contained there. We are still a projected 20 days (nearly 3 weeks) from peaking, and then, because our peak will be so high, large numbers of Americans will continue to die for another 2-3 weeks.

    Trump keeps repeating that nobody could have seen this coming. South Korea’s competent leaders saw it coming. There are reports that medical experts giving Trump briefings on the outbreak in January and February couldn’t get him to pay attention.

    Tens of thousands of Americans are going to die unnecessarily—perhaps over 100,000. The economy will further crumble. If the worst President in our country’s history isn’t held accountable for the mess he’s made of this, our democracy is a sham.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      “Nobody could have seen this coming.” Unless they’d read the numerous reports that said this was coming.

      Most ominous news I heard today so far was a New York Times piece saying the current number of deaths might actually be double the amount we’re being told. Yikes.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Update: 10,490 deaths in the USA as of today—more than the total cases in South Korea.

  6. Avatar chris solberg says:

    Prince and his early bandmates in the Revolution had a guy, keyboard player I believe who wore scrubs and a surgical mask.

    Might be a new post apocalyptic look for you? 🙂

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gazNwzC4H0

  7. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Thanks to some 50 local persons sewing re-usable masks from 100% cotton, our local medical facilities are in fair shape. Follow Ms. Stone’s washing instructions. I’ve dusted off my old sewing machine and will attempt to make a few. If you have any sewing supplies and want to help, contact the non-profit Fashion Alliance-Redding, 262.2070, and they’ll tell you exactly what they need. Meanwhile I’ll listen to ABC daily report, 12noon-1pm, and get factual, non-hysterical and non-political COVID 19 information.

  8. Avatar Annelise says:

    I have real concerns about more people beginning to wear masks more often. People don’t know how to use masks safely; even health care workers often don’t use masks safely. And wearing and handling a mask incorrectly actually creates a vehicle for increased spread of disease. Here is one article on how to use them well. Super important, and difficult.

    https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/coronavirus/masks-101-who-needs-them-and-how-to-wear-them-from-a-frontline-nyc-doctor/2300238/?fbclid=IwAR3pbQG7Ki0gi2we76sOicNkjEHCtvcifp4RyiEriv4eFwer8kVZNmVVdoA

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      In the New York Times opinion piece I quoted, the writer said healthcare authorities had overplayed how difficult it is to use a mask correctly because they’re more concerned about the shortage for healthcare workers and are trying to dissuade the general public from using them. The writer pointed out its not too difficult–as long as you’re provided with the proper instructions, just like anything else. This is mainly referencing the N95 respirator, which you do have to don and doff very carefully in order for it to function properly. A surgical mask is easy to don but doesn’t form an airtight seal, so it’s not as good as an N95, but its better than a cloth mask. All people wearing masks still have to follow social distancing guidelines, wash their hands 10 times a day, stay at home except for essential trips, etc.

    • Avatar Candace says:

      Annelise, Good info, thank you. I shared the link you provided on my FB page. Take good care.

  9. R.V., I know this face-mask topic is a minute-by-minute moving target, and I appreciate your timely reporting about it.

    You’ve prompted an interesting discussion here this morning. Thanks, R.V.

    I’m glad you’re in for the long run. Stay safe!

  10. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    It’s allergy season. I think the best reason to wear a mask while in public is to avoid getting lynched.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I’ll tell ya, after you mask up, you get a little jumpy when people openly sneeze or cough in public! Instead of feeling safer, I feel more paranoid!

      • Richard DuPertuis Richard DuPertuis says:

        Paranoid is an irrational fear. I think your fear is justified, R.V.

        While out, I consider myself contaminated. I watch where my hands go, which I never did before, and it’s a real eye-opener. I try not to touch my mask. Home, it’s strip at the hamper, then into the shower. A long shower.

        After dressing in all clean clothes, I look back and see if I missed anything.

        Paranoid. Nah. Adapting.

  11. Avatar Anita Brady says:

    If you get a change at the next public health Q & A, can you ask why there has been so many negative test results? If they were using the criteria properly, it seems that there would have been fewer tests given to those that ended up negative.

    While the results are good news for each person that is negative, it seems like the tests were wasted.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Anita, I didn’t ask Dr. Ramstrom that precisely, but what I did ask her was what percentage of the people who were tested who were extremely sick, verses what percentage were contact trace tests, etc. She said the large majority of the people tested so far have been hospitalized sick people, a small number have been contact trace tests. The high negative number is a function of not having enough tests to do all the necessary contact trace testing. The positives are slowly starting to rise, I think it took a week to double from 10 to 20, and as more testing takes place, the number of infected will unfortunately rise.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Anita, there’s a story going around now that some of the COVID-19 tests appear to be generating an abundance of false negative readings.

  12. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    My daughter works at ST Joseph Hospital in Phoenix, yesterday they were told not to wear masks at work, today the hospital is handing out masks and requiring all employees to wear one.
    I may venture to the corner and see if the golfers, an essential business in Phoenix, at the golf course across the street are wearing masks.

  13. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Annelise — I’ve heard the same thing about cloth masks and gloves—you should have at least two sets of each, and when you walk into your house after venturing out to shop or whatever they should go directly into your washing machine along with the clothes you’re wearing.

    I’ve also read that if you use disposable gloves, you have to dispose of them after each use—you’re probably doing more harm than good reusing them. It’s more hygienic to just diligently wash your hands.

    • Richard DuPertuis Richard DuPertuis says:

      Agreed.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I keep the interior of the car sterilized with alcohol spray. I put my gloves and mask on, exit the car and go into the store/pharmacy. I try to touch nothing unless I’m going to buy it, that includes no leaning on counters that other people lean on. When I get back to the car, I open the door, doff my mask and gloves and throw them in a brown paper bag for later disposal. Depending on how trashed the mask is, I might spray it with alcohol and let it dry for reuse. Gloves are always just one-use.

  14. Avatar Robert V. Scheide SR. says:

    The loss of medical supplies is plain to see , the finger pointing as to who is to blame, doesn’t make a difference, getting gear now does.

    What is most important to me is the ability of the president to tell the truth about anything. Others just nod their head in agreement.

    In the beginning of this crisis, which he know about at least in December, he not only didn’t take any action and called it a hoax, giving our virus friend a huge head start.

    While the hospitals were crying for supplies Trump took to saying the hospitals are selling stuff out the back door. Then when a city said it needed x number of ventilators he sent them way. lees.

    There are a ton of other examples of the administrations bungled attempt at dealing with this criss but I think you get the idea . Our President is not fit for office and if you folks elect him a again you deserve what you get.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      The continuing failure to expand testing and the ongoing personal protective equipment shortages are mind boggling for a country that considers itself so exceptional.

  15. Avatar Miguel says:

    Here’s the guidance from we got from the leader of the free world on Friday —
    – “With the masks, it’s going to be really a voluntary thing. You can do it, you don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it and that’s OK,” Trump said. – Reuters, Apr 3, 2010

    Redding, you deserve better than this. And you can DO better than this! Wear your mask. Because you KNOW .. it’s the right thing.

  16. Deb Segelitz Deb Segelitz says:

    In our part of Scotland I’ve only seen two people wearing masks. Firstly because the government hasn’t insisted that people do, but secondly (or is it firstly?) because up here people almost scoff at advice of a health and safety nature. I don’t know what it is about this area, but they’re the ones who would eschew protective gear if they knocked down a barn filled with asbestos, and look down on anyone who insisted on it with great disdain.

    My husband’s dialysis team started having patients wear masks at dialysis, yesterday. I know they’ve just started doing the same in another NHS region across the Firth from us, too. One of Sem’s fellow patients was very annoyed about it, but Sem was relieved – he’d rather they all wear masks, patients and staff alike, especially at such close quarters, for such a long period of time.

    When I picked him up from dialysis last night he was waiting outside the hospital, still wearing his mask – he took it off about halfway home, and the few people we passed on our way out walking their dogs actually stared into our car, looking at him like he was diseased – which I suppose they may have thought he was.

    There’s that video from the Czech Republic about how effective masks seem to have been, for them, and what struck me was when it was said (paraphrase), “If everyone is required to wear a mask, no one is stigmatized because of it. We are all the same. And by wearing a mask, I protect you, and you protect me.”

    How I wish our governments would make it mandatory to wear a mask if going out somewhere. I understand the concerns about masks, and that people don’t really know how to use them properly, but then make mask-wearing education part of the announcement. We’ve all seen plenty of diagrams and videos about how to wash our hands, if we didn’t know already. The same would easily be done with mask-wearing guidelines.

    Most of all I wish everyone would take the view of, “I protect you… you protect me…” be it in terms of mask-wearing, social distancing, staying at home other than truly essential forays into CoronaWorld, or panic buying/hoarding. Some people are, but many are not.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Deb, the Czech Republic’s mask rule came about after just one citizen’s Facebook rant went viral. The first time I work my surgical mask in public, I felt a little self-conscious, but I soon got over it when I encountered various citizens sneezing, coughing and wheezing all over the place.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I’ve been going off the reservation about once a week. Yesterday’s trip was to a local Palo Cedro gardening store (=marijuana grower supply store) to get some bags of soil amendment for some raised garden boxes I’d just finished building. When I got there, three younger guys were purchasing some supplies, so I waited in my truck. As they were leaving I slipped my mask over my face, and two of them smirked at me.

      Smirk all you like, boys. In a week or two I’ll bet you’ll be wearing masks, too.

      • Avatar Candace says:

        Steve, in a week or two I hope you stop going off the reservation for dirt. In fact I hope you stop doing that now. Based on what I “know” about you from ANC, I like you and I want you to stick around for a good long while. My guess is you might irritably push back at me with “sanity preservation balance” reasoning coupled with “I’m being careful, ex. being I waited for the boys to leave.” That’s ok, I’ll take it if it means you might think twice before heading out. Take good care.

        • Avatar Candace says:

          Steve, whoops *soil amendment. Anyway, I hadn’t realized my comment to you had made it through. After reconsideration I suppose there’s therapy and then there’s “therapy”. Take good care.

  17. Avatar Kfair says:

    There’s still a lot of no-common-sense practices in place that haven’t kept the safety of citizens into account during this time. I made a visit to the Winco grocery store in Redding wearing mask and gloves. I spoke to the clerk to ask why none of the checkers or stock people there were wearing gloves or masks. She told me they didn’t have any available. I told her I sewed fabric masks, and would be willing to give them some for free since that would be better than nothing. She told me to speak to management and called a guy over. I made the offer to him about masks. He told me they couldn’t accept them because they hadn’t been made by an official vendor. I asked, “What if I just happened to gift a mask to one of your checkers?” He told me they couldn’t accept it unless they were off hours, and even then, they wouldn’t be allowed to wear it at work. INSANITY!! I gifted 20 of my masks to my local vet’s staff, and they were thrilled to have them.

    • Avatar Candace says:

      Kfair, Hmmm. I have family in lower management at Winco who told me last week they were wearing gloves but not masks. Perhaps they ran out? Very concerning for sure.

    • Avatar Rob Belgeri says:

      I’m over 65 with what the med folks call one of the critical co-morbidities, though it’s controlled well right now. I’m not doing the grocery shopping anymore; neither can my wife, with her own issues. So we’ll use Instacart until we can’t afford all the mark-ups. In the meantime, I’ve missed Winco and its prices (friendly staff, too). Periodically, I’ve thought of running in their quickly to snag something we can’t find somewhere else. Not now. This kind of Kafkaesque, bureaucratic response at a time when the Winco operation needs every employee they can keep healthy tells me Winco doesn’t give a damn about either its employees or its customers. Anything we can’t get elsewhere is just a First World problem, anyway, and means nothing compared to what others are experiencing. Unless Winco changes its policy about protecting its employees and customers, I won’t be going back there.

  18. Avatar Rob Belgeri says:

    R.V., that shot of you with the elastomeric respirator takes me back over 40 years. I ran a semi-conductor chip recovery assembly line and didn’t trust any of the mooks working for me to work the acid baths so I did it. I wore one of those because acid fumes didn’t seem to be helping my sinuses. What a hassle that thing was to wear most of a shift. Now I wish I had kept one.