I was watching a news program the other day that had nothing to do with face masks or their wearing. One thing hit me about this situation. Asians had been wearing face masks for as long as I could remember for smog and colds and even as politeness or fashion statements. Yet, Covid-19 had hit them anyway. How could this be?
First of all, it became apparent that Asian Countries give out “surgical masks” on a regular basis. They are not worried about their healthcare providers having PPE as much as N. Americans are because they’ve always had a good supply of the surgical masks day in and day out. Most of the population has been already wearing them as they are all given (those who want them anyway) a number of them or access to them.
Secondly, it hit me that a lot of people who were wearing face masks, ended up with Covid-19 anyway or in spite of wearing these masks on a regular basis.
Yes, we all know that surgical masks are meant to protect OTHERS from our germs/viruses and not us. Only the coveted N95 masks which are on short supply as we all know, have the ability to somewhat protect against the virus, at least, up to 95% of it anyway. They are to be reserved for front line healthcare workers who are most in danger and even then, those who face the public on a regular basis, often have to go with surgical masks which don’t protect them but, rather those who they come in contact with instead.
What does the rest of the world do? They start bringing out scraps of materials, old t-shirts and sew themselves face masks that may or may not be effective more than 10% or less. As a matter of fact, these masks may be more harmful than beneficial to a lot of people who don’t handle them right, wash them enough or even take them off improperly. One thing may be sure, there’s likely to be both a cotton and elastic shortage by the time we ever get back to life as normal without Covid-19 up our rears.
As I sat at my sewing machine like half the world has done already, I began to ponder how creative people have been in making these things. There must be several hundred videos out there on how to make these things for ourselves with each one figuring that their methods are somehow better than another or we have a dozen or so people filming the same techniques as several others. While I usually go for the ones created by surgeons or nurses or doctors, I realized that I couldn’t get my hands on my furnace filters because they were sold out to people who made these masks, dismantling them only to find out that they could contain particles of fiberglass and should NOT be worn lest the pieces be inhaled. So much for our furnaces.
Try to find coffee filters as well. They’re a hot commodity too with people using them for inserts/filters for these masks too. Desperation and panic tend to lead to some fairly inventive and creative ways in which to do things, don’t they. Never mind the idea of needing alcohol to disinfect thermometers or other uses. It’s all been grabbed up and hoarded to make hand sanitizers as have aloe vera gels. Thank the heavens that it was early on, deemed as ineffective to use drinking alcohol so that those who have dependency issues weren’t hoarding that as well. I think that I could use a drink or 20 right about now. Just joking but, seriously, we’re going to run into a great number of shortages when we’re back to normal and be producing for years to come. No one complain about not having a job, please. I get it that you’re at witt’s end over bills and having lost your job but, honestly, there will be new jobs coming up in future times. Hang in there, please. No, you may not be balancing a tray of plates in an indie style restaurant but, you can be taught how to manufacture stuff instead, I’d think. If you can balance that tray or 4 to 6 plates on your arms and not spill anything, you can learn to manufacture and so can I.
While watching other news stories about Covid-19, the glutton for punishment that I am, I was seeing a pile of people who were protesting the re-opening of provinces while the Premier called them a “bunch of yahoos”. He was correct. Are they nuts? Reopen a province while there are still so many deaths and positive testings from a small portion of the population who have the symptoms to get tested? Don’t get me wrong. I do get it that people need money as landlords can only afford so much of lack of payment for rents and even for food for the family and I also understand, being on a fixed income myself, what it’s like to have limited funds and want to cry with no help and no family. I hear them and my heart goes out to them. However to stand in front of a government building, protesting that the province open because they’re wanting it open, don’t believe that Covid-19 is real or the dangers of it, don’t care about nursing homes or even ships being deemed as epidemics or having outbreaks kind of makes one scratch their heads with the question of “what the heck is running through YOUR heads?”
Equally, I know what it’s like to be cooped up inside our homes with no place to go and wanting to scream at the next person in our living quarters that knocks into us, not being able to buy anything online because we don’t have enough money to do so or because we can’t return it if it’s not right for us even if we can complete our purchases due to Covid-19 concerns. There’s a lot of us who are suffering from other issues as well as mental health problems such as anxiety or depression which have reared their ugly heads in strength and amounts of it. I hear everyone who is going through this but, picture having a job that means that you have to travel on a public transit with people who potentially have the virus and not know it but, are shedding it to them on top of having to go to work in which one risks their lives every day through activities or Covid-19 such as doctors, nurses, PSW’s and others. How attractive is that to these “yahoos” now? Aren’t some of them the ones who booked and took cruises during a pandemic then cried and wondered why no country wanted that ship to dock or played out on beaches, freely drinking and whining that Covid-19 was “ruining” their vacations and not caring who they spread it too because they believed that they were too young to get anything? Ok, no? I digress anyway.
This, along with being back at my sewing machine, made me wonder a lot of other things as well.
If the CDC had originally said that masks may do more harm than good, why is it that now, knowing that Asian countries such as even China wore masks regularly and were hit as well anyway, why was it suddenly ok for us to all be sitting with scarves, cut up t-shirts, reading labels like maniacs and trying to figure out ways to make shoe laces into ear rubbing pieces of elastic? I mean, what changed? Was it that it gave us all some sort of “power” feeling? Was it all political to stop those who had hoarded masks to give them up to (rightfully so) healthcare providers? Or, how about giving us all something to do? I mean, isn’t ripping up sheets and shirts, pants and shoes taking up some of our time? What made the difference and how sad is it that some of the most wealthy countries in the world, can’t produce enough of these things to outfit an entire population and keep our front line healthcare workers safer? What’s wrong with this picture? Can anyone guess?
Inadvertently, while following one of the sewing videos, my elbow accidentally hit the mouse which brought up a video by a hospital that said that no one needed to put in the nose pieces or elastic as they would look after that, themselves as well as disinfecting the masks and inserting their own filters which I can be pretty sure didn’t involve a washing machine, detergent, copper wire, cut up t-shirt scraps or shoe laces instead of elastic.
Of course, to answer the question of whether or not DIY “dupes” would suffice to protect us all, those watching these videos were told that these home jobbers wouldn’t be used by healthcare workers. They weren’t protective enough and that these were going to patients entering the hospital as guards against sneezes, coughs, talking or yelling through 15 layers of coffee and furnace filters, vacuum cleaner bags cut to pieces (yeah, you’d better hope that you have bagless vacuums by now because they’ve likely been hoarded as well) as well as fusible interfacing which can’t be bought or found now either. What really made a mask appropriate was the fit of it. Hospitals were using double faced hospital grade and easy on the skin tape to ensure a seal and had to be “fit tested” to ensure that the masks that they use were snuggly fitted to the face with no gaps. Of course, if you’re not too vain, there are even articles and videos made on how to turn 3 elastic bands into face huggers. Can you imagine walking around with what amounts to a face mask being mashed against your face with these 3 bands?
This all had me wondering then, what the heck then was I doing with masks that fogged up my cheater glasses, gaped at the sides to let air in and out of them as well as cotton not having been manufactured or intended for use in those million holes of sewing needles from pins and the sewing machine as life protecting face masks against a virus. Should I cover them all over with hot glue? Oh wait, I couldn’t breathe then and neither could anyone else wearing them. However, running out of t-shirts to cut up and other cotton materials as well as shoe laces (I can’t wait for summer to come now so that I can wear my plastic or rubber sandals or will they figure out a way to strap them to my face too by then), I realized that I had no double faced tape to fit it all either. I guess I’ll just double up on coffee filters. What did my husband mean that he was going to make himself a pot of coffee? How dare he? Use up my filters? No way! “Use INSTANT,” is my go-to response. “Do NOT use any valuable coffee filters for such drivel as having a cup of coffee or 10!”
I looked further then and out came the videos from those in authority that claimed that rolling up a bandana or other materials such as paper towel, elastic bands around your ears made with staples and by a male surgeon would offer about the same protection. These are for the “sewing challenged, men and in a pinch usage”, right? What’s coming next, taping a piece of paper towel or coffee filters to our faces with Scotch tape, Gorilla tape, for the brave Duct Tape or any bandages we have on hand instead? I’d say that’s about as effective as breathing through the gaping holes left behind and made by sewing machines, hand sewing or even the huge crevices left behind in the tops and bottoms of the masks on our faces, isn’t it? All of this to save the sadly, scarce but oh so preciousand life saving badly needed PPEs for healthcare professionals and coax the hoarders to give up their stockpiles of them to the front lines? Someone tell Trump to do the same too, please. He’s got a load of even ventilators kept for himself and his wealthy friends. Couldn’t the world do without Pence anyway? Are Pence and Trump sharing brain cells or just a few fries short of a Happy Meal? Why won’t they inject themselves with disinfectants too while they’re at it and give it a try? Someone hand them bottles of Lysol, Windex and Javex please. They can be the test subjects since it was Trump’s suggestion much to the dismay of people who tried it and were poisoned or dead. Again, to Trump Supporters, I’m only half joking on that part of things and of course, they won’t try any of this but, will hope that others will so that they can see what happens. Now they know, right?
However, from my little corner of life to yours, this all goes back to the original question of why it is that China for instance, got hit with Covid-19 when a lot of them wear masks daily anyway or as a practise? Are they not washing their hands for 2 Happy Birthday songs? Are they removing their masks wrongly? What’s the deal here and why am I still picking threads off of my shirt…uhhhh….I mean….chest? I cut up my t-shirt material for masks.
Love and Light!