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"Why Wearing a Face Mask Is Encouraged in Asia, but Shunned in the U.S."

Disasters   (385 Views | 6 Replies)

adventure_rn is a BSN and specializes in NICU, PICU.

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I know that people have strong opinions these days about the allocation of PPE, and I recently saw this article in Time magazine and wanted to share:

https://time.com/5799964/coronavirus-face-mask-asia-us/?utm_source=pocket-newtab

My biggest takeaway is that in the US, wearing a mask in public is seen as a selfish act because either a) you're sick and should stay home, or b) you're not sick and are wasting valuable supplies. However, in many Asian countries, it's selfish not to wear a mask because you could be a carrier and unknowingly be putting other people at risk. People in the US who wear masks in public are likely to be shamed, just as people who don't wear them might be shamed in some Asian metropolitan areas.

I guess it makes sense--if we truly had unlimited PPE for every person in the world (and they all knew how to properly use it), and if everybody agreed to wear their masks every single day, that would theoretically slow or stop the spread of the disease. The CDC does recommend that people who have COVID wear a mask to protect others; if literally every person had an unlimited supply of masks, then all of those contagious carriers could prevent unknowingly spreading the virus if they were already wearing masks.

Of course, that all falls apart in our current situation where we're running low on supplies and we really do need to ration/triage them to areas with greatest need (hospitals, not random people at the grocery store). I think it's an even harder pill to swallow when some people feel as though the global mask shortage (and TP shortage to create makeshift masks) might have been exacerbated by panic buying and generalized use within some Asian countries.

The article did make me wonder if any of this comes back to the very individualistic mindset of the US compared to the much more communal mindset of many Asian countries (I.e. preservation of self vs. preservation of the group). It was especially interesting to hear the perspectives of people who have been raised and have live in both cultures.

I'm still inclined to get ticked off when I see people using unnecessary PPE in public (especially when they're using it totally wrong, which defeats the purpose). Still, this article has helped me to try to be a bit more empathetic.

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Rose_Queen has 15 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in OR, education.

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I would recommend reading up on the efficacy of those masks being worn. Cultural norms aren't necessarily based in science.

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adventure_rn is a BSN and specializes in NICU, PICU.

3 Followers; 1 Article; 1,420 Posts; 19,748 Profile Views

10 minutes ago, Rose_Queen said:

I would recommend reading up on the efficacy of those masks being worn. Cultural norms aren't necessarily based in science.

That's a fair point. I do think that if people are wearing surgical masks incorrectly (for instance, reusing them), or they're wearing the wrong kinds of masks (I.e. cloth masks that never get cleaned), they end up putting themselves and others at even higher risk. Granted, the sentiment I keep hearing online about makeshift masks is that 'even if they're only 1/3 as effective, that's still better than nothing...'

Just as a thought experiment, it would be wild if we did truly have unlimited stockpiles PPE (enough for hospitals and personal use). Can you imagine if the governments were sending people surgical masks and all of the news stations (and people on TikTok) were uploading videos of how to use it properly?

Edited by adventure_rn

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Rose_Queen has 15 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in OR, education.

12 Followers; 4 Articles; 9,481 Posts; 110,272 Profile Views

Ha! We can’t even get healthcare professionals to wear masks correctly. If I had a dollar for every anesthesia provider and surgeon and OR staff I’ve seen with a mask that was practically only useful as a decoration because it wasn’t even close to being properly on the face, I coulda retired 10 years ago!

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I always thought it was because of the poor quality of the air in some of the Asian countries!

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Orion81RN has 7 years experience.

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The lay person is touching their face more with the masks on and still touching surfaces. Just my thoughts. Not against masks if there were an abundance, but education needs to provided. We still didn't even educate the public on hand washing. Just kept saying "wash your hands." People think they are washing their hands...after the bathroom 🤦‍♀️ No, folks. Much more frequently than that.

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Orion81RN has 7 years experience.

924 Posts; 9,834 Profile Views

16 hours ago, Rose_Queen said:

Ha! We can’t even get healthcare professionals to wear masks correctly. If I had a dollar for every anesthesia provider and surgeon and OR staff I’ve seen with a mask that was practically only useful as a decoration because it wasn’t even close to being properly on the face, I coulda retired 10 years ago!

Interesting. I was listening to a Dr. recently explaining that the masks in ORs are pretty much decoration. That the research doesn't show a higher infection rate post op without masks. I'm wondering if that is bc it is improperly worn frequently. I don't remember where I heard this. I just remember it was a credible source.

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