DISCLAIMER: We don't claim to be medical experts, but here are some facts and news stories that could be helpful on this topic.
The handling of the Coronavirus by both world leaders and U.S. leaders has been a disaster.
We've been given "facts" about the virus from the beginning that experts are now saying may not be true.
The World Health Organization claimed that the virus was not airborne, when studies are now revealing that COVID-19 stays in the air for up to 3 hours.
And CDC, along with other leadership in America, stated that masks were not necessary, when studies are saying that they are absolutely necessary for protecting against the virus.
THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION CLAIMED VIRUS WASN'T AIRBORNE
WHILE A STUDY SHOWS THAT THE VIRUS CAN BE AIRBORNE FOR 3 HOURS
"The World Health Organization doubled down on its claim that the COVID-19 virus is not transmittable by air even as some experts suggest it is possible and as Western officials recommend that doctors and nurses take precautions." (Washington Examiner, 3-30-20).
“FACT: #COVID19 is NOT airborne,” WHO declared in a Saturday fact-check tweet. "The #coronavirus is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.” (Washington Examiner, 3-30-20).
Yet a study conducted in the United States has suggested otherwise. A study released this month, carried out by more than a dozen health experts working with the National Institute for Health's Rocky Mountain Laboratories, found that "aerosol … transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is plausible, since the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours.” (Washington Examiner, 3-30-20). According to the study, the virus can remain in the air for 3 hours.
According to the study, the virus was more stable on plastic and stainless steel than on copper and cardboard, and viable virus was detected up to 72 hours after application to these surfaces.
This makes sense. COVID 19 has been shown to be an incredibly infectious disease that has swept the world like wildfire, growing exponentially in its spread (with now over 1 million infected). Would COVID 19 really be that infectious if someone had to cough in your face just for you to get it? That doesn't make sense.
It seems more likely that someone could get this virus from breathing the same air that an asymptomatic infected person is breathing. Which is why masks are critical.
"Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1" (The New England Journal of Medicine, 3-17-20)
This study looks at how long COVID-19 stays in the air and on surfaces.
World Health Organization insists Coronavirus not an airborne disease as experts raise possibility (Washington Examiner, 3-30-20 )
THE CDC'S CHANGING STORY ABOUT FACE MASKS
When the virus started spreading through the U.S. in March 2020, the CDC, along with other health experts, told U.S. citizens not to wear masks.
We found the following message on the CDC's website in early March. Since then, they have taken it down.
"Masks are not a magical solution for disease prevention. And if everyone buys up the supplies of facial masks, there won't be enough for hospitals, which could cause a real crisis. It is best to follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a face mask, which are: "the CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)."
Since then they have reversed their decision, in advising facial cloths. (CDC)
U.S. officials have been strangely dismissive of protective covering, despite the fact that other nations recommend the masks. (Politico, 3-30-20)
There is no scientific evidence that face masks are unnecessary in this situation. In fact, it's been shown that facial masks actually can help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
"The official recommendation in the United States (and other Western countries) that the public should not wear face masks was motivated by the need to save respirator masks for health care workers. There is no scientific support for the statement that masks worn by non-professionals are “not effective”. In contrary, in view of the stated goal to “flatten the curve”, any additional, however partial reduction of transmission would be welcome — even that afforded by the simple surgical masks or home-made (DIY) masks (which would not exacerbate the supply problem). The latest biological findings on SARS-Cov-2 viral entry into human tissue and sneeze/cough-droplet ballistics suggest that the major transmission mechanism is not via the fine aerosols but large droplets, and thus, warrant the wearing of surgical masks by everyone." (Medium, 3-26-20)
The following study shows that the filtering provided by surgical masks is better than nothing.
"Avoiding large droplets, which cannot enter the lung anyway but land in the upper respiratory tracts, could be the most effective means to prevent infection. Therefore, surgical masks, perhaps even your ski-mask, bandannas or scarf, may afford more protection than portrayed by governmental official in their initial (understandable but unfortunate) recommendation against wearing of masks by the public in general." (Medium, 3-26-20)
In other words, even a home made mask is better than nothing. We're not saying people should wear masks at home. But people should wear masks when in a public crowded space. Wearing a mask reduces the chance that you will spread an infection to other people and reduce the spread of the virus.
When putting on the mask, make sure it is facing the correct direction and do not put your fingers on the inside of the mask. Also, try not to re-use disposable surgical masks. They are not meant for re-use.
"Professional and Home-Made Face Masks Reduce Exposure to Respiratory Infections among the General Population" (Plos One, 7-9-08)
This study looks at the effectiveness of facial masks in reducing exposure to infection.
Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Face masks (CDC)
N95 Respirators, Surgical Masks, and Face Masks (FDA)
Can I Wear A Mask More Than Once? (Web MD)
Gov. Northam orders masks inside indoor public places across Virginia (WHSV, 5-26-20)
Can homemade face masks help limit the spread of the Coronavirus? Scientists can't agree, but here's what you need to know (Business Insider)
Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 (CDC)
Hospitals Tell Doctors They’ll Be Fired If They Speak Out About Lack of Gear (Bloomberg, 3-31-20)
Mask mystery: Why are U.S. officials dismissive of protective covering? (Politico, 3-30-20)
COVID-19: WHY WE SHOULD ALL WEAR MASKS — THERE IS NEW SCIENTIFIC RATIONALE (Medium, 3-26-20)
HHS clarifies US has about 1% of face masks needed for ‘full-blown’ Coronavirus pandemic (CNBC, 3-4-20)
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
We are not experts. Given that the virus is still so new, nobody really knows the complete truth about this virus.
However, we can recommend some steps that you can take to stay safe and to keep society safe.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. This can bring germs into your body. Only do so if you have washed your hands
Wash your hands:
The best thing we can recommend is to wash your hands. Be sure to use antibacterial soap. You would think washing hands would be a no brainer, but a surprising amount of people don't wash their hands properly. (Medical Xpress). A look around the world shows that washing the hands with water and soap leads to a 30% reduction in respiratory infections. (Tropical Medicine and International Health).
When first coming home, do not touch common household objects like the computer, remote or phone until you wash your hands.
According to the CDC, people should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, before eating, after blowing the nose, and after coughing or sneezing.
Outside of the Home:
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. We recommend Purell. (Purell products on Amazon)
You can also use wet wipes. We recommend Wet Ones.
Avoid Contact With Germs And Sick People
The CDC has some good guidelines for avoiding disease. While the linked page refers to the Coronavirus, it has good tips for disease prevention in general.
In addition to washing the hands, here are some other guidelines.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay away from anything they are breathing. Do not shake hands with them.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Don't Share Personal Effects With Other People:
Personal objects like toothbrushes and towels should never be shared with other people.
Clean and Disinfect Household Objects:
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes. Clorox wipes are useful.
Remember that germs can survive on a surface anywhere from only a few minutes to several days. But most are no longer dangerous after 24 hours. (PBS)
Also clean your phone.
PURIFY THE AIR IN YOUR HOME
Since the virus very likely could be airborne, purifying the air in your home could be a helpful step in keeping you safe from the virus. We recommend purchasing an air purifier.
DON'T PANIC - BE PREPARED
Wide spread hysteria and panic over disease can sometimes be as dangerous as the disease itself.
So instead of panicking, we suggest being prepared.
Keep your medicine cabinet stocked with the basics: thermometer, alcohol wipes (like wet ones), disinfectants, gauze, band-aids, rubbing alcohol, painkillers, etc.
HELP THE COMMUNITY
We know that it can be hard to avoid panic, especially when people are trapped inside and are receiving bad news everyday. One way to keep feelings of panic and helplessness at bay is to focus on helping others.
There are some measures you can take to help those who are food insecure right now, due to having to stay home, or the shops being depleted of supplies. You can shop online for food for the needy and have it delivered via Amazon.