Friday, March 10, 2023

Friendly reminder: Masks work

Since we are going to be dealing with COVID-19 for a while to come, it's useful to remind readers that the overwhelming evidence is that masks (especially N-95) work quite well. As we've known for a long while, COVID-19 is transmitted through airborne particles. Thankfully, we don't have to worry about fomites for that particular virus. The article I linked to offers plenty of evidence about how the virus spreads, including the current Omicron variant and subvariants, which are highly transmissible. There's some advice for reusing N-95 masks, which is helpful, given their expense. You will want to refresh your supply regularly. Even a poorly fitting N-95 mask is far better than being unmasked if there are people in the vicinity who have COVID-19. Chances are you're probably less likely to be exposed if you are outdoors than indoors, and while indoors, good ventilation matters. 

Masks, like other mitigation measures, became needlessly politicized in 2020, and we are paying the price globally as a consequence. Prevention measures generally are good common sense. If you can keep your face covered, you reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 and transmitting COVID-19. That's a good thing. If you have the ability to physically distance when there is an outbreak (as there will continue to be for a while), you're better off doing so. Even though fomites are not an issue, I'd still advocate for good hand hygiene. Ultimately, though, you have to figure out your own situation and how much risk you can afford to take. Those with pre-existing health conditions or who are young at heart but not so much chronologically should probably mask up at minimum, at least indoors. If you can get vaccinated, it is in your best interest to do so. For the record, my spouse and I have both had our original two COVID vaccines, and any subsequent boosters made available to us. They're no guarantee, and I know my spouse did test positive for COVID-19 in early December 2022. However, thanks to detecting it early and getting her on Paxlovid, she had minimal symptoms and avoided hospitalization (and this is someone who can easily get bronchitis or pneumonia). 

Stick to solid science. Tune out the demagogues. You'll be better off, and so will anyone else in your life.