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It’s time to face America: the mask works

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When you see One feature stands out above all in photographs of Americans during the 1918 flu pandemic. mask. The fabric is usually white gauze and covers almost all faces. Nationwide, public health experts have recommended universal mask wear and some cities Ordered Residents wear them under imprisonment or fines. The Red Cross made thousands of cloth masks and distributed them for free. Newspaper Instructions To sew a mask at home. “Make any kind of mask … and use it right away and anytime.” Boston Health Commissioner Begged. “Putting a handkerchief on your face is better than nothing.”

Following the 1918 outbreak, the preventive use of masks among the general public was no longer favored in the United States and much of the West. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice Healthy people wearing masks in the public to prevent flu and other respiratory diseases. Drugs have fallen dangerously over the past few months, causing CDC and US General surgeon Jerome Adams, and World Health Organization Paradoxically urged people not to buy a mask Assert These masks are essential for the safety of healthcare professionals and cannot protect the public from Covid-19.

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Recently, A few Expert Have In dispute This contradictory advice. They suggest that the spread of masks is one of the many reasons why China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan controlled coronavirus outbreaks much more effectively than the United States and Europe. “Of course the mask works” sociologist Zeynep Tufekci I have written New York Times editorial. “Their use has always been advised as part of the standard response to being around infected people.” Public health expert Shansolin and epidemiologist Robert Hect said: argument Boston Globe: “The mask is only for sick people, and we need to change our perception that wearing a mask is weird or embarrassing. As more people wear masks, they become social norms and Last week, George Gao, Executive Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in China, Said That the United States and Europe are making “big mistakes” by telling the public to wear a mask during an ongoing pandemic.

It is clear that healthcare professionals in countries where personal protective equipment is lacking need to prioritize masks. However, conflicting claims and guidelines regarding their use raise three questions of greatest urgency: do masks work? Should anyone wear it? And if there aren’t enough medical grade masks for the general public, is it possible to make a workable substitute at home? Decades of scientific research, lessons from past pandemics, and common sense suggest that the answer to all these questions is yes.

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The two most widely used types mask N95 mask and surgical mask. N95s It is usually round or duck-shaped and, when properly installed, seals tightly around the nose and mouth. Due to their stiffness and fit, they can be uncomfortable when worn for extended periods. Surgical masks, also called procedural masks when worn outside the operating room, are usually rectangular with soft pleats that are secured to the face with a strap or loop of ears and pulled under the chin. It is more comfortable than N95, but looser and more air leaks from the sides. Both the surgical mask and the N95 include a small plastic fiber inner mesh. filter. Also, both masks are disposable by design and are usually discarded if they become too wet, dirty, or damaged.

Masks reduce the spread of infectious diseases by catching microorganisms displaced by the wearer and protecting the wearer from microbes in the environment. When you cough, sneeze, talk, or just breathe, Decorative feather With air splashConsists primarily of saliva, mucus, salt, and potentially dangerous microorganisms if infected. The smallest of these droplets, sometimes called aerosolCan hover or drift for hours in the air, potentially exposing people to the airspace. Large droplets only a few feet or up 26 feet Propelled by sneezing-before falling to the ground or before falling on another surface, such as someone’s skin or clothing.

Respirators were originally designed to protect miners, firefighters, and soldiers from dust, smoke, toxins, and other harmful particles in the air. N95 is so called because it removes 95% of 0.3 micron diameter particles. Most difficult Particles to trap. Think of the filters in the mask as bushes (closely entangled microfilaments), not sieves. To get it done, Particles must flow Weave all obstacles seamlessly in the airflow. Large particles crash because they are too heavy to pivot quickly. Very small particles are buffed by individual air molecules, bounce off like a pinball, and collide with the filament. Particles 0.3 microns wide are just the right size to get the air flow into the fibrous maze of the filter, but it is possible to stop them with enough twist and rotation.

A Seattle policeman wearing a gauze face mask in 1918.Photo: Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

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