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Facial coverings effective?

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I’m sure I have an unpopular opinion but does anyone else feel like the mass push for facial coverings and masks has very little benefit? Think about it (I know this is immature, so forgive me) if a fart can go through underwear and a pair of jeans... can’t good ol’ Rona go through a piece of cotton? Not only that, the general public is not educated in how to wear PPE and are not wearing the masks or gloves correctly.

Frankly... mask and gloves provide them with a false sense of security.

As nurses, we are keenly of what’s clean or sterile so we can do a pretty good job navigating ourselves in public during this pandemic. However, not trying to be disrespectful or anything, watching the public on with their masks and gloves on is quite entertaining to say the least. I was in Whole Foods recently and you can see who’s a medical professional from a mile away as it’s obvious to see which hand they’ve designated as their “dirty hand” and how they hold they hand in resting position while grocery shopping! If I can smell my coffee through my mask as I pick up a new bag from the shelf and toss it into the cart, then Rona ain’t going to be fooled by my mask. I’m not willing to waste an N95 for grocery shopping.
I just don’t see the need for a mask out in public unless you have a new or sudden change in cough or are immune compromised. We will always have rouge individuals who will defy advice and not wear a mask when sick, but I’m talking about the general public. I do see the benefit when you have a cough as it will stop the droplets from traveling further. But just breathing in and out can transfer this virus... I don’t know how a mask will provide protection from this.
I live in a fairly wealthy area where almost EVERYONE is wearing a mask in public. For those who are not wearing a mask, is it because of a conscious decision, typically unrelated to financial reasons.

My case is: I don’t see the efficacy of surgical/homemade masks against coronavirus for healthy individuals.

Thoughts?

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience.

A fart is gases.... atoms/molecules are much smaller particles than viruses so of course they can escape easily through fabric.

Besides some protection is better than none. Yet-to-be-symptomatic infected person sneezes in Walmart... do you not want those droplets contained?

Just for clarification can you explain to me what you think the purpose of wearing a mask in public is?

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

The push to reopen society has been based in part on the argument that the psychological toll of sheltering in place is too high. It is the second thing mentioned after talking about the economy crashing.

I find people wearing masks in public to do a lot to alleviate some of my anxiety about deaths that are to come. They are a far from ideal solution, but the most ideal solution is already being discontinued. Masks are the next thing we have in the arsenal. Combined with social distancing and good hand hygiene, its the best we have. If we are going to use things other than actual science to argue for or against interventions, I submit the argument that for those of us who think we are reopening far too quickly, the wearing of masks is a mental health intervention.

1 hour ago, Here.I.Stand said:

A fart is gases.... atoms/molecules are much smaller particles than viruses so of course they can escape easily through fabric.

Besides some protection is better than none. Yet-to-be-symptomatic infected person sneezes in Walmart... do you not want those droplets contained?

But those droplets are not contained in an ill fitting fabric mask. If everyone was wearing surgical masks, then I could see the push for it. The holes in that cheap, Joann fabric are huge.

I disagree with the whole face mask in public thing. It’s become very obvious to me throughout this whole pandemic how nobody understood basic hand hygiene to begin with and people most certainly don’t understand how to wear masks and gloves. I see very few people effectively wearing masks. For most people, it’s become some type of fashion statement. Now, if they were to put some type of filter in their fabric mask I could get on board. But that’s not what is happening.

Its a make everyone feel better effect.

Edited by LovingLife123

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

1 minute ago, LovingLife123 said:

But those droplets are not contained in an ill fitting fabric mask. If everyone was wearing surgical masks, then I could see the push for it. The holes in that cheap, Joann fabric are huge.

I disagree with the whole face mask in public thing. It’s become very obvious to me throughout this whole pandemic how nobody understood basic hand hygiene to begin with and people most certainly don’t understand how to wear masks and gloves. I see very few people effectively wearing masks. For most people, it’s become some type of fashion statement. Now, if they were to put some type of filter in their fabric mask I could get on board. But that’s not what is happening.

Its a make everyone feel better effect.

Agreed. But apparently "make everyone feel better" is now just cause for pretty much anything.

RNNPICU, BSN, RN

Specializes in PICU. Has 13 years experience.

21 minutes ago, Nurse SMS said:

, I submit the argument that for those of us who think we are reopening far too quickly, the wearing of masks is a mental health intervention.

I tend to agree about the mental health intervention for some, but also, I think many people stress a lot over wearing a mask. However, just because wearing a mask might make others "feel better" is not a justification for wearing a mask. I look around at the grocery store and outside and see most people with the mask not properly fitting, under the nose, or the N95 obviously not fitting appropriately and I wonder if they realize they are not getting the protection they think they are.

I often hear people saying the cloth masks are better than nothing and then some try to use guilt.. you aren't wearing it for yourself you are wearing it to protect the immunosuppressed or the 85 year old grandmother. I dislike tactics like this because it is not a way to reach people nor have compassion during this unprecedented time. I am not convinced that cloth masks are going to protect the immunosuppressed or the 85 year old grandmother, the materials are to porous.

41 minutes ago, LovingLife123 said:

But those droplets are not contained in an ill fitting fabric mask. If everyone was wearing surgical masks, then I could see the push for it. The holes in that cheap, Joann fabric are huge.

I disagree with the whole face mask in public thing. It’s become very obvious to me throughout this whole pandemic how nobody understood basic hand hygiene to begin with and people most certainly don’t understand how to wear masks and gloves. I see very few people effectively wearing masks. For most people, it’s become some type of fashion statement. Now, if they were to put some type of filter in their fabric mask I could get on board. But that’s not what is happening.

Its a make everyone feel better effect.

It appears that there is some data that supports the use of cloth masks in public.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7191274/

FolksBtrippin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Public Health.

5 hours ago, Thanksforthedonuts said:

I’m sure I have an unpopular opinion but does anyone else feel like the mass push for facial coverings and masks has very little benefit? Think about it (I know this is immature, so forgive me) if a fart can go through underwear and a pair of jeans... can’t good ol’ Rona go through a piece of cotton? Not only that, the general public is not educated in how to wear PPE and are not wearing the masks or gloves correctly.

Frankly... mask and gloves provide them with a false sense of security.

As nurses, we are keenly of what’s clean or sterile so we can do a pretty good job navigating ourselves in public during this pandemic. However, not trying to be disrespectful or anything, watching the public on with their masks and gloves on is quite entertaining to say the least. I was in Whole Foods recently and you can see who’s a medical professional from a mile away as it’s obvious to see which hand they’ve designated as their “dirty hand” and how they hold they hand in resting position while grocery shopping! If I can smell my coffee through my mask as I pick up a new bag from the shelf and toss it into the cart, then Rona ain’t going to be fooled by my mask. I’m not willing to waste an N95 for grocery shopping.
I just don’t see the need for a mask out in public unless you have a new or sudden change in cough or are immune compromised. We will always have rouge individuals who will defy advice and not wear a mask when sick, but I’m talking about the general public. I do see the benefit when you have a cough as it will stop the droplets from traveling further. But just breathing in and out can transfer this virus... I don’t know how a mask will provide protection from this.
I live in a fairly wealthy area where almost EVERYONE is wearing a mask in public. For those who are not wearing a mask, is it because of a conscious decision, typically unrelated to financial reasons.

My case is: I don’t see the efficacy of surgical/homemade masks against coronavirus for healthy individuals.

Thoughts?

Yes, masks are effective at slowing down the spread. This is a droplet illness. Your mask protects others from your droplets. How is it that nurses don't know this? Hopeless.

5 hours ago, Thanksforthedonuts said:

I’m sure I have an unpopular opinion but does anyone else feel like the mass push for facial coverings and masks has very little benefit? Think about it (I know this is immature, so forgive me) if a fart can go through underwear and a pair of jeans... can’t good ol’ Rona go through a piece of cotton? Not only that, the general public is not educated in how to wear PPE and are not wearing the masks or gloves correctly.

Well, I would feel more comfortable with three layers of cotton fabric between me and the world -- in that way, they might even be more effective than cheap disposable masks, though of course not anything close to N95 protection.

I do think the craze to have them attach at the ears is part of what's leading to ill-fitting masks. I received mine from a Stitch Witch (she loves the name) who did her sewing when elastic was impossible to find, and did her pattern with a neck and over-the head tie. With it tied tightly, yes I am breathing through the fabric. It may not be as "fashionable" or as "elegant" of an appearance to have fabric strings around your head/neck, but it allows an adjustable fit that ear attachment cannot provide.

Sure, some double-sided tape would be nice along with the nose wire to get a "seal" if I was looking for that, as would the HEPA filter inside the pocket, but the public is not seeking the same level of protection as nurses working with probable COVID-19 cases in aerosol-generating procedures. We're hoping that those who think they just have allergy-generated coughs who might also be asymptomatic will be able to keep their cough mostly inside the mask, and do the same for others.

On the gloves thing -- I don't wear them, and don't see the point. My sister tried to do a "clean hand, dirty hand" routine, where she kept her keys and other things in one hand and used her other for pushing the cart, picking up items, touching the keypad at the payment station... but it sounded extremely complex and almost a touch OCD. Not likely something people can do easily, either, but she's far more mindful of what she's touching than someone with gloves -- transferring germs all over.

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 42 years experience.

25 minutes ago, moriahcat said:


On the gloves thing -- I don't wear them, and don't see the point. My sister tried to do a "clean hand, dirty hand" routine, where she kept her keys and other things in one hand and used her other for pushing the cart, picking up items, touching the keypad at the payment station... but it sounded extremely complex and almost a touch OCD. Not likely something people can do easily, either, but she's far more mindful of what she's touching than someone with gloves -- transferring germs all over.

I do the "clean hand, dirty hand" thing automatically.

When I worked in the hospital, I had a "clean pocket, dirty pocket" mentality as well. "Dirty pocket" took a roll of tape, alcohol wipes, and things that Might be contaminated. "Clean pocket" took my (sanitized) pen, scissors, hemostat, sheet sheet, that sort of thing.

And I agree that wearing gloves in public does not make sense. Carry hand sanitizer; use it before getting back in your car. Sanitizer goes in the "clean pocket". :yes:

2 minutes ago, Kitiger said:

And I agree that wearing gloves in public does not make sense. Carry hand sanitizer; use it before getting back in your car. Sanitizer goes in the "clean pocket". :yes:

I meant more "a little more complicated than the general public is used to", not to insult people who use this strategy for good reason and out of habit from other settings. 😉 She's a computer tech, so not a part of her daily routine before this.

But wait, you're able to find hand sanitizer where you live? Lucky duck... 😉 I'm treating the whole outside world as "dirty", including my car, and just washing hands well when I come home.

1 hour ago, Wuzzie said:

It appears that there is some data that supports the use of cloth masks in public.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7191274/

There’s also data that says they aren’t. I don’t disagree that a fabric mask could work if it’s made a used properly, but that’s not what is happening. If you insert a filter, have it fit around your nose and face properly, they could be a great alternative. But now it’s just a fashion accessory and who can get the cooler fabric. I refuse to participate in that.

And don’t even get me started on gloves. I get grossed out seeing people use them improperly. Especially at the drive thru window. Taco Bell seriously has the best policy in place for the drive thru which honestly shocked me a little.

If it makes someone feel better to wear it, by all means do it.

16 minutes ago, LovingLife123 said:

There’s also data that says they aren’t.

I would be interested to see that data if it's current. The earlier stuff that's out isn't particularly relevant anymore as we have continued to learn about the idiosyncrasies of this virus.

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 42 years experience.

44 minutes ago, moriahcat said:

But wait, you're able to find hand sanitizer where you live? Lucky duck... 😉 I'm treating the whole outside world as "dirty", including my car, and just washing hands well when I come home.

And I also wash well when I get home. Depending on where I have been, I may be changing my clothes, too.

I have hand sanitizer at home because I keep medical supplies handy. I must have bought this large bottle last Summer.

I also have masks that I bought last fall, because I stock up before the flu season . . .

Gloves, alcohol, peroxide, bandages; I keep a supply of that sort of thing year 'round.

5 hours ago, Here.I.Stand said:

A fart is gases.... atoms/molecules are much smaller particles than viruses so of course they can escape easily through fabric.

Besides some protection is better than none. Yet-to-be-symptomatic infected person sneezes in Walmart... do you not want those droplets contained?

Sometimes, if you’re not careful, they ain’t always just gases... if you know what I mean 😉

5 hours ago, Wuzzie said:

Just for clarification can you explain to me what you think the purpose of wearing a mask in public is?

To stop the spread is the goal. I’m just not sure this is very effective to reach that goal.

2 minutes ago, Thanksforthedonuts said:

To stop the spread is the goal. I’m just not sure this is very effective to reach that goal.

Well I guess I would think it's better than letting people spew their stuff all over the place. At least most of it's caught in the mask. Remember, my mask protects you.

2 hours ago, FolksBtrippin said:

Yes, masks are effective at slowing down the spread. This is a droplet illness. Your mask protects others from your droplets. How is it that nurses don't know this? Hopeless.

My mother says I’m hopeless too sometimes...