Get Ready for Masks

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

As I’ve watched the Coronavirus pandemic unfold around the world, I’ve seen a number of things that give me concern. Obviously, we’re all concerned about the disease itself and the people who are dying. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about how the various governments of the world are handling this crisis.

On one hand, it’s easy to say that there’s a lot of overreaction going on. There have been diseases in the past, even pandemics; yet the world has never marshaled the forces against those diseases, which are being marshaled against COVID-19. But on the other hand, this disease appeared out of nowhere and has spread much more rapidly than any pandemic in the past. While some have equated it to the flu, the typical flu doesn’t kill as many people as this disease does.

Part of the problem is the incubation period for the disease. When someone is infected by one of the various strains of influenza, they come down with symptoms in a day or two. With COVID-19, that can be as long as 3 ½ weeks. During all that time, they can be infecting others.

The situation is such that if the governments of the world don’t take drastic action, we’re going to see many more deaths than there were from the Spanish Flu, which killed an estimated 50 million people a century ago. That’s what’s at stake here. If the government doesn’t shut things down, we’ll see lots of people die. That will enrage one group of people, who will say that the government didn’t do enough. On the other hand, if we do what the government is trying to do and slow the spread of the disease, then we’ll see many fewer people die. That will enrage another group of people (or perhaps the same group) who will say that the government went too far.

Either way, no matter what the government does, there will be those who say it was the wrong thing. I’m glad I’m not the one making the decisions.

As I look at the spread of the disease, which I do on a daily basis, I see that some countries are having greater success battling it than others. Specifically, South Korea and Japan stand out as examples of success. By comparison, we aren’t doing so good here at home. But don’t blame the government for that; it’s largely because people won’t do what they’ve been advised to do and avoid contact with others.

Japan and South Korea are countries where the people are accustomed to submitting to authority, unlike the United States, where we are quick to say, “Who are you to tell me what to do?” It is this, our own rebellious nature, which may yet be the undoing of us all.

When the governments of Japan and South Korea said to practice social distancing, their populations obeyed. But they did something more; everyone donned masks. From surgical masks, to N95 dust masks and even respirators worn in industry, you can find pictures of people wearing all sorts of masks. Everyone; not just a few.

Our medical authorities have said that surgical masks don’t do any good to keep you from breathing in a virus. Medical personnel wear them not to protect themselves from infection, but to protect their patients from becoming infected by anything that the medical staff might be carrying. That’s especially important in surgery, while the patient’s body is wide open for bacteria and viruses to enter.

I must confess, I’ve stated the same thing myself. But yet I see people masked in the countries which are having the greatest success in battling this pandemic. Are we all wrong?

Here’s the thing; the masks those people are wearing aren’t so important for their ability (or lack of ability) to keep them from breathing in the virus, as they are in keeping them from breathing them out. With the long incubation period of COVID-19, there are people walking the streets who are infected, but don’t know it. By masking those people, we can keep them from infecting others.

But how can we know who they are? We can’t. So the solution is for the government to require everyone out in public to wear a mask. That’s really the only possible solution, and was hinted at by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in an interview just recently. The only thing that’s keeping us from doing that now, is that there is a severe shortage of masks.

Okay, so what’s the solution. One part is for industry to step up to the plate and start making more masks. But that’s not the only step there is. You and I can make masks too; at least for our own use. The pleated blue surgical masks that we see in all the pictures can be made out of a few layers of cloth. While not a perfect solution, that’s enough to catch and absorb most aerosol droplets, which is enough to keep the virus from getting into your mouth and nose.

All it takes to make a surgical mask is a few six inch squares of absorbent fabric, preferably something thick, with a tight weave. Sew them together around the edges and then take a couple of tucks in both sides, pleating the fabric. Attach some elastic, or ties to keep the mask on and you’re ready to go. Being made of fabric, you can even wash the mask and reuse it, making it better than the commercial ones you buy.

Just one more tool in your toolbox of survival; just like keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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