It’s 5:05 pm and you begin to feel a slight tightening of your chest. You are inside a crowded chrome elevator with about 15 other people. Everybody’s tired and just want to go home. “Ding!” the elevator bell makes a sound and you’re now on the 30th floor. You stare at the glowing numbers of the elevator panel and every number below 30 seems to have a yellowish glow on them. You sigh and you feel your chest pound again. The elevator hums and moves down after the red headed woman in front of you gets off. You look at your wrist watch and it’s 5:06. Thoughts about the difference between comfort and discomfort make a bead of sweat fall from your brow. In your mind, you’re thinking of the pleasure of getting a drag. Read more
Everyone at some point in the day loves to sit down with a warm cup of liquid in their hands, set aside their worries and thoughts and experience the quietude and warmth. What is it about tea drinking that this ritual is ubiquitous to human civilizations? Read more
As states reopen after stay-at-home orders, many are requiring face coverings in public places to help decrease the spread of COVID-19. The CDC and the WHO alike are now recommending masks for the general public. However, earlier on, both organizations said that we should not wear masks – a shift in opinion that may have helped confuse a lot of people about the efficacy of face coverings. However, the science is clear. Masks can help prevent the transmission of COVID-19, and the more people that wear them, the better.
Why did the CDC change its recommendation?
Back when the CDC was saying not to wear masks, the prevalence of COVID-19 was believed to be far lower than it actually is. For a disease that isn’t very common, it may not make sense to force a whole population to wear masks. However, we now know that the apparent low number of cases in the beginning was more likely the result of inadequate testing, providing a false sense of security.
Another concern was the limited supply of masks and the need to reserve them for healthcare workers. However, even when the supply of KN95 masks was panic-inducingly low, people could have been wearing cloth masks (even homemade ones) all along and, if they had, we could possibly be in a very different situation right now.
An increasing disease prevalence and a heightened awareness of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission are the two most likely reasons for the CDC’s change of heart. We now understand that viral load peaks before symptoms ever appear and that even normal speaking is enough to expel infected droplets – not to mention the fact that some people never develop symptoms at all, yet can still transmit the virus. For this reason, you cannot tell by looking at someone that they aren’t “sick.” Therefore, everyone should wear masks to protect both themselves and others around them.
Where is the evidence that the new guidelines are correct?
You may hear people say, “There is no evidence that wearing masks reduces transmission.” Don’t believe it. There is plenty of evidence to exactly the contrary, such as this review. If you aren’t convinced, here are an experiment and a peer-reviewed study that both show clearly that masks are effective at slowing the spread of infectious diseases.
However, the strongest evidence comes from the study of real-world environments. For example, one study compared the rate of transmission in over a dozen states before and after mask mandates. It concluded clearly that mask mandates do slow the spread of the disease. Another study examined the COVID-19 death rates in 198 countries and discovered that those with mask mandates or cultural norms that favored mask-wearing had fewer deaths.
There are also compelling case reports that strongly suggest that masks can keep people from getting sick even in high-risk situations. For example, one man with a dry cough flew from China to Toronto and then tested positive for COVID-19. However, he was wearing a mask, and none of the 25 people sitting closest to him contracted the illness. In another case, two Missouri hairstylists had contact with nearly 150 clients while they were sick with COVID-19. Everyone wore masks, and every client with whom they came into contact subsequently tested negative.
Who do masks protect?
Is your mask there to protect you or the people around you? Most experts agree that the biggest benefit is for keeping people with COVID-19 from infecting other people. However, you will still receive some benefit from wearing a mask, even if you are healthy. Masks can also prevent larger droplets from evaporating into smaller droplets that can remain in the air for longer and travel farther. And keep in mind that, as mentioned, you could be an asymptomatic carrier and not know it, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you aren’t sick, you don’t need a mask.
Does the type of mask matter?
While there have been studies that have compared various masks and materials, the top consideration for the general public should probably be comfort. That’s because the most comfortable mask is the one you’re most likely to wear consistently. N95 respirators are necessary only in medical scenarios. In general, surgical masks may be more effective than cloth masks, and they may feel lighter and more comfortable on.
The bottom line, however, is that any mask that covers your nose and mouth will help. Remember that the goal is risk reduction – not absolute prevention. If you are concerned that a mask may not be 100% effective – but it’s all you have – wear it. It’s almost certainly better than nothing. Consider this: if you have high cholesterol and your doctor recommends medication to help prevent a heart attack, you’ll most likely take it, even though you understand that this medicine does not prevent heart attacks 100% of the time. The idea is to reduce your risk – the same as with masks.
Are masks still necessary with social distancing?
There are three steps you can take that, together, dramatically lower your odds of contracting COVID-19: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. Of these three, wearing a mask is the most important thing that you can do. Unlike transmission through inhaled droplets, there is actually little evidence that contaminated surfaces are a major source of transmission. One final thought to keep in mind: your eyes are a potential source of transmission, and your mask doesn’t cover them. Therefore, it’s important to keep your distance from other people and to wash your hands before touching your face – even while wearing a mask.
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Children – they are both blessings and miracles. They may be small, helpless and adorable today, but soon they will be an important of society as the next generation contributes to the world.
So what else is there to do other than love them? Yes, take care of them, feed them, play with them, and teach them how to be a good person. But most importantly, love them! No other love can compare to a parents’, and no amount of material things can equal it.
But it is not always possible to be by their side at all times. There are times when you’re not there to watch out for them. Especially when you’re working and they’re left at home. So the next best thing to do on these occasions is to make sure everything is safe for them. Especially the kitchen. Read more
I successfully gave up smoking several years ago now, and like most other former smokers, I just wish I had stopped sooner. It is not just because of all the health problems it causes and what a thoroughly anti-social habit it is (that was a major reason for me to quit), but other factors applied as well. I am a vegan, and I discovered fairly recently that cigarettes very often contain animal products (besides the tobacco, and a great host of other harmful substances. If you ever wonder what goes into a cigarette, you may as well ask what doesn’t go into them!) Read more
This past year was my first year in the “real world” – as people call it. In the past 10 months, I graduated from college, started my first full time job, moved to a new city, got married, bought my first house, (and therefore moved again) and began the process to adopt a puppy. So, I feel like I was/have been pretty busy! However, I still don’t feel all that busy. I get to spend more time with my husband now than I ever had before. Read more
Do you ever feel like the world around you is just full of… unhappiness? That’s because it is. According to the CDC, in 2017, 479,000 Americans visited emergency departments for self-inflicted injuries. 47,173 committed suicide the same year, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the US (after health conditions such as heart disease and cancer as well as accidents). Read more
Listening to some Leonard Cohen in a darkened room might not be the most uplifting experience and certainly there are times in our lives when we want to withdraw and listen to music that might be described as melancholy or depressing. There is evidence however that on the whole listening to music is an uplifting experience and in many instances it can be something that has a positive impact on our health and well-being. Read more
Most of the people in the world are smokers whether they know or not. Even people who haven’t smoked in their life may have undergone passive smoking. Passive smoking (also known as second-hand smoking) refers to the process of inhalation of tobacco smoke due to burning of tobacco products by others. Read more
As the popularity of e-cigarettes continues to grow, a US scientist is claiming that the prolonged exposure to nicotine could increase the risk of developing a fatal heart condition. Read more