How do we make this work?

Running Man 101

Active member
Handwashing and social distancing (min 3') covers 99.5% of it. If you sneeze or cough the masks do something, otherwise they are useless.

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yj_runfan

Well-known member
I have spent most of the last six months working on various projects to study, design and test masks. But I am by training a statistical modeler. The data is becoming more and more clear that masks provide significant benefit. Both with direct testing, re-analyzing old "masks are not effective" studies to understand what they really said and with statistical looks at spread where mask wearing is more and less effective. The real problem is not that masks are ineffective, it is that if you spend several hours with an infected person indoors, even though masks are significantly reducing the amount of virus you encounter, it may well not be enough.
Have you seen this statement published in the New England Journal of Medicine?

We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection.
Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.
 

mathking

Active member
Have you seen this statement published in the New England Journal of Medicine?

We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.
I have. In fact I have talked about this on Yappi. Have you seen the statement from those same researchers from July?

"We understand that some people are citing our Perspective article (published on April 1 at NEJM.org)1 as support for discrediting widespread masking. In truth, the intent of our article was to push for more masking, not less. It is apparent that many people with SARS-CoV-2 infection are asymptomatic or presymptomatic yet highly contagious and that these people account for a substantial fraction of all transmissions.2,3 Universal masking helps to prevent such people from spreading virus-laden secretions, whether they recognize that they are infected or not."
 

mathking

Active member
Cloth masks, and even surgical masks, will not prevent you from getting infected. Even and N95 properly work along with a face shield is not proof against infection. But cloth masks do not provide you with much protection. It is not zero, not even for a simple cotton mask. The estimates are all over the place but depending on the thickness and properties of the cloth and the tightness of fit it is from a low of about 15% to a high of about 40% reduction in your chance of getting infected. Since your chance of infection is also about proximity and time of exposure, they are not super effective in protecting you if you are talking about 30-60 minutes of exposure. Not nothing, but not a lot. But masks also reduce the chance you infect someone else. They are much better at this, but still nowhere close to what would be termed "safe" in the occupational safety or medical sense. But simple cloth masks also reduce the chance you infect someone else. They are more effective at this than at protecting you. If you are willing, I am happy to explain the physics behind this, but it is beside the point because this has become the conclusion of more and more people studying the effects of mask wearing. Suffice it to say droplets that do get through don't go as far before succumbing to gravity and aerosols with less initial velocity spread more uniformly (thus diffusing more quickly) and indoors this means they are more likely to be quickly captured by ventilation. The best estimates range from 30% to 70% effectiveness. Again the infection chance also depends on proximity and length of time of exposure. It is in some ways best to think of masks as reducing proximity, because by reducing the number of particles and by reducing their release velocity what you are effectively doing in making yourself further away by wearing a mask.

Those percentages seem kind of low, don't they? It is really easy to see them and think why bother? Consider that if the protection for you is 20% and the protection from someone else is 40% (these are in the low end of estimates) then if both people are wearing masks a 40% infection chance becomes a 19.2% infection chance. That not only means a non-insignificant chance for the individual infection chance to go down but a very big decrease in the r-nought value for the infection which makes it easier to tip over from increasing infection to decreasing infection. Or it takes an already decreasing infection and greatly accelerates that decrease. Even if the estimates are all high, and there is only a 10% chance of protecting you and a 25% chance of protecting someone else, both people wearing masks still reduces the infection chance by a third.

And again, there is a growing body of research showing the benefits of mask wearing. Even a lot of older studies that do not show benefits really don't show no benefit. They show nowhere near enough benefit to be labeled safe for an individual. And we should absolutely keep in mind that masks≠safe. But masks=safer is true.
 

yj_runfan

Well-known member
Not all great things come from Woodridge, but there are a lot! Mark Mothersbaugh and his brother Bob did. Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!

"a houseful of TikTok influencers across the street " was the weirdest part of that story.
 
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