Masks: How do you encourage people that they help?

Posted by tjdog @tjdog, Jun 23, 2020

I live in a retirement community. Many of my neighbors do not believe masks help stop the transmission of COVID-19. They use the Nextdoor app to post their feelings and “facts”. I usually try to convince them otherwise, but it seems to be fruitless. Today someone posted a picture of a warning on the box of disposable surgical masks (attached) to prove their point that masks, other than N95, don’t work. Can you give me some information that will help explain this warning and why these type of masks help. Thanks.

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Hi @tjdog, There has been so much misinformation in addition to information has changed several times. I can understand the frustration of trying to make people understand that masks are important. Here's some of the latest information from Mayo Clinic and a short video where Dr. Gregory Poland answers questions about public masking.

COVID-19: Mayo Clinic expert answers questions about masks after CDC updates its recommendation
https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/covid-19-mayo-clinic-expert-answers-questions-about-masks-after-cdc-updates-its-recommendation/

COVID-19: How much protection do face masks offer?: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-mask/art-20485449

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@tjdog, I, too, understand your frustration and dilemma. You want to be safe in your neighborhood, but you also don't want to create conflict. Opinions can be challenging to change with facts. We had a similar discussion about acceptance and persuasion in this discussion:

– COVID-19 Concerns: How do you help others understand? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/how-do-you-make-them-understand/

In that discussion, I wrote:
When trying to explain the concerns about COVID-19 to someone, even family, it is first important to understand why they may be resisting protective restrictions and evidence published by trusted medical sources. Even facts may not resonate when people are suffering due to financial concerns or they don't (yet) know anyone who has had the virus.

This article from Psychology Today sheds some light:
– Why Aren't Some People Taking COVID-19 More Seriously? https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psych-unseen/202003/why-arent-some-people-taking-covid-19-more-seriously

Here's another discussion that may be of interest:
– We're told to wear masks. How do we do it safely and properly? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/masks/

To address, your primary question regarding the message on the box of surgical ear loop masks that someone is using as "proof" that masks don't help. There is a fundamental flaw in this person's understanding of what the masks can do and why they work only if we all wear them. Ear loop surgical masks and cloth masks do not protect the wearer from getting germs, but rather the mask stops them from spreading their own germs to others. So if we all wear masks, no one is spreading germs beyond their own mask.
Does that make sense?

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@tjdog I wanted to offer some information about surgical masks. First, understand that there are legal issues if a manufacturer claims the mask can protect you and stop a virus. If a person wears a mask and catches COVID-19, the manufacturer could have legal claims against them, so no one can give you a guarantee. There is variability in masks too because of the material they are made with and probably variation among the same brand of masks. Last year, I had purchased ear loop masks from 3 M that filter down to .1 micron particles and are rated at filtering out over 95% of particles at that size. That is the same as HEPA filtration and that can filter out viruses. There is also variation in the size of different viruses and possibly variation in the size of this novel coronavirus, but the fabric can filter out some of it and multiple layers help filter more. Surgical masks are not tight against the face, and if you taped that to your face, you would have a better seal and it would filter out a lot more if there was no bypass available. Masks are rated for particle filtration of .1 microns (PFE) and bacterial filtration (BFE) capability. Surgical masks are usually tie on styles instead or ear loops because they will be tighter and not fall off during surgery and ear loop masks are more comfortable. You can always wear a surgical mask and put a fabric mask over it. I do that with something I bought for sun protection which is like pulling a turtleneck up on your face. The company that makes these is called BUFF. I can wash that and keep the disposable mask "clean." Not clean, because stiff can pass through the BUFF head wear. Hydrogen peroxide kills the virus and I will spritz the disposable mask with it and let it dry to use another day.

Here is a link to 3M product information that explains if you look at the footnotes. https://imgcdn.mckesson.com/CumulusWeb/Click_and_learn/3M_%20Health_%20Care_%20Surgical_%20Masks_%20and_%20Respirators_Sell_Sheet_2020_5.pdf

If you are thinking about home made fabric mask efficiency, denim comes reasonably close to what an N95 mask does for filtration, but it also depends if air is able to bypass around it. Denim, like N95, is a little hard to breathe in. I read this when I was looking up information about sewing masks. Colleen also makes a good point because when everyone wears a mask like they are doing at Mayo, it stops a lot of aerosol and respiratory particle spread from the person wearing the mask, and together that reduces possible exposure to this virus a lot for everyone. To get into Mayo, you need an appointment and are questioned at the entrance about symptoms and your temperature is scanned. After that you are given a sticker to wear that shows you were cleared for that day to enter. I was just at Mayo for medical treatment and I felt safe with all of their precautions that are in place, and because I was having surgery, as routine, I was tested for COVID as a precaution with the swab test and blood test for antibodies.

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@tjdog -Since people often don’t know that they have been infected with the virus yet but can spread it to others it is – let’s say- respectful to wear a mask all the time out so one does not make others sick.
That’s my way of thinking.

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@colleenyoung

@tjdog, I, too, understand your frustration and dilemma. You want to be safe in your neighborhood, but you also don't want to create conflict. Opinions can be challenging to change with facts. We had a similar discussion about acceptance and persuasion in this discussion:

– COVID-19 Concerns: How do you help others understand? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/how-do-you-make-them-understand/

In that discussion, I wrote:
When trying to explain the concerns about COVID-19 to someone, even family, it is first important to understand why they may be resisting protective restrictions and evidence published by trusted medical sources. Even facts may not resonate when people are suffering due to financial concerns or they don't (yet) know anyone who has had the virus.

This article from Psychology Today sheds some light:
– Why Aren't Some People Taking COVID-19 More Seriously? https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/psych-unseen/202003/why-arent-some-people-taking-covid-19-more-seriously

Here's another discussion that may be of interest:
– We're told to wear masks. How do we do it safely and properly? https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/masks/

To address, your primary question regarding the message on the box of surgical ear loop masks that someone is using as "proof" that masks don't help. There is a fundamental flaw in this person's understanding of what the masks can do and why they work only if we all wear them. Ear loop surgical masks and cloth masks do not protect the wearer from getting germs, but rather the mask stops them from spreading their own germs to others. So if we all wear masks, no one is spreading germs beyond their own mask.
Does that make sense?

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Colleen…It makes sense to me. Thanks for the info on the box warning.

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@zeiracorp – I can’t understand why there a people who don’t keep there opinions to themselves.
In Sweden, where I’m from, there is a terrible COVID-19 problem. It is on the news. Younger people make fun of the seniors wearing masks and tells them to go home! I’m appalled at this lack of respect. However, they are now talking about mask wearing for all.
My daughter lives there and wants to wear mask without being ridiculed.

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@zeiracorp, That would have both deeply offended and frightened me. Glad you and spouse were together when the man made such an idiot of himself. Guns frighten me because I've never been around them. Guys doing the "open carry" thing just because they can and it is legal would still be unsettling to encounter in the neighborhood. Glad you and your guy are taking precautions to stay safe and healthy!

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@astaingegerdm

@zeiracorp – I can’t understand why there a people who don’t keep there opinions to themselves.
In Sweden, where I’m from, there is a terrible COVID-19 problem. It is on the news. Younger people make fun of the seniors wearing masks and tells them to go home! I’m appalled at this lack of respect. However, they are now talking about mask wearing for all.
My daughter lives there and wants to wear mask without being ridiculed.

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I have felt that wearing a mask (like the surgical one pictured) is at least some protection if you came around someone with the virus…it certainly can’t hurt….it has been stated by many to please wear a mask ….Dr.Fauci has pleaded with us Americans to please wear some kind of face mask or covering….social distance, length of time and proximity in crowded areas….hand washing..

And for myself, some hope that things will get better.

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@robbie1956 – I agree with you. The masks offer better protection than nothing , much better. Unless you are face to face for a while with someone with the virus actively coughing. I feel safer, in control. I wear eyeglasses too- makes me remember not to touch my eyes.

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@zeiracorp, Z, I do applaud you for keeping your cool when confronted by the taunter! Thank you for your post and also for being a certified fire arm instructor. I grew up and now live in a state where hunting and ranching is prevalent so understand why gun ownership is high.

I am grateful for those who carry to protect others and themselves and are licensed do so for the safety of us all. My neighbor tried unsuccessfully for years to get me to buy a gun and take classes on how to use it. Because I've never been around guns, I've always said that I might do more harm than good if I had one. I am a firm believer that every sane individual has every right to defend against harm.

Whether with words or weapons, those who are physically aggressive due to mental illness and those who are defiant for the sake of causing upheaval and danger for its own sake are the people who most frighten me.

I couldn't agree with you more that it is the idiots out there who put us all in danger. Whether confronting others verbally to start a skirmish, refusing to wear masks or distance, or threatening others with a firearm or other weapon, these are the people that put all of us at risk.

When a "sold" sign went up on a house at the corner of our block, we were delighted when a young policeman and his sweet family moved in. Most of us are elderly and many are singles so having his police car parked in his drive at night is very reassuring. I live in a quiet neighborhood but recently neighbors are reporting instances on our facebook page of being accosted and even chased while on walks. I'm sticking with my very early morning neighborhood walks but staying closer to home than when I began the walks last January.

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