//Masks for Dummies pt. III
Surgical masks laying on a wood surface

Masks for Dummies pt. III

By I. smiley G. Calderón | smileygcalderon@gmail.com

It’s like we’re winning the race for losers every single day our COVID-19 numbers rage. There are now over 16 million cases and 650,000 deaths worldwide, but the U.S. is leading the way with over a quarter of those cases and about 150,000 deaths. Lately, we have lost 1000 Americans a day because of the coronavirus. Here in Fresno County, we now have over 13,000 cases with hundreds of people in our hospitals fighting for their lives at this very moment.

President Trump was right when he told us that his presidency would leave us tired of winning.  I know I’m tired. Are you tired of winning yet? We all should be incredibly tired of this president’s lack of leadership during this historic deadly pandemic that has shaken our country to its core. Instead of playing politics and the blame game when this viral threat emerged within our borders, President Trump and his administration should have taken this viral threat seriously. They should have acted swiftly to curtail it’s spread and threat.

And, one of the proven best ways to fight the coronavirus is (you guessed it): wear a mask.

We’ve been talking about this for months now, and it’s a no-brainer. If everyone had correctly worn a mask in public at the onset of this pandemic, our COVID numbers would be drastically lower than they are now. And there would be countless thousands alive today because of it. But we didn’t. Months into this health crisis, and we still aren’t.  Americans still aren’t wearing masks or taking this virus seriously.  Our astronomical numbers show this very clearly – but you see this firsthand every day in town as you go about your business. 

Things have gotten so bad that there is serious talk about another shelter-in-place lockdown.

Science supports wearing masks to reduce the spread of COVID, which is why the CDC and WHO and every other health agency and official around the world highly recommend wearing one in public – whether inside our outside. Why? Since asymptomatic and presymptomatic infected individuals can spread the virus without feeling or looking sick by merely opening their mouths, wearing masks in public can protect you from others and others from you.

Now that it is common knowledge that the coronavirus can spread as an airborne aerosol and that its infectious particles can stay suspended in the air by a cough or a sneeze – or even simply just by talking – you can begin to understand that, although social distancing is essential – it’s just not enough. A cough or a sneeze can send infectious particles flying like a ballistic projectile, and loud talking or laughing can spew virus in an invisible cloud for several feet around you. This can happen even when you’re outside. Yes, good ventilation and fresh air are important – but fresh air doesn’t stop viruses. Which is why wearing a mask is so crucial.

So, when the president publicly downplays the importance of wearing a mask and instead promotes an individual’s freedom not to wear one, it undermines our progress and endangers our nation. It doesn’t matter if he puts one on for a quick photoshoot or hesitantly recommends that people wear them. People can read between the lines, and everyone knows that actions speak louder than words.

This is why we must lead by example.

We believers in science who love our nation and who want to promote life and liberty need to take a stand and proudly wear our masks when out in public. But we need to wear them correctly. When I say “correctly,” I mean that we need to cover up both our nose and chin when wearing our masks so that they fit snugly against our faces. We can’t have any air gaps or open spaces between our faces and mask. Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to wear one. So, if your mask is not completely covering up your nose and mouth so that all the air you breathe and exhale is filtered by it, you’re wearing it wrong. Simple as that. This is important because, for example, if you only cover your mouth, but you’re not covering up your nose, you could potentially inhale coronavirus particles through your nose when around an infected person – even with your mask on! 

Wearing a mask incorrectly is like wearing no mask at all.

The City of Fresno understands this surprisingly well, as demonstrated by its recent citywide implementation of stricter face mask laws. Introduced by District 7 Councilmember Nelson Esparza and passed with a 5-1 city council vote on July 16th, Bill No. B-24 amended Section 2-514 of the Fresno Municipal Code, Response to COVID-19 Emergency, specifically addressing masks: “In addition to social distancing guidelines that may be required by law, all businesses, government facilities, and employers throughout the city, shall require employees and customers, vendors and others to wear cloth face coverings…when interacting with other people, whether indoors or outdoors. Facial coverings must cover both mouth and nose…”

Cover your mouth and your nose. That’s the most critical part of Masks for Dummies.

Last month, I shared a video on how to quickly and easily make an effective face mask in case you don’t already have one. What’s important here is multiple layers. The more layers, the better. If the cloth mask you’re wearing is only made of one single layer, it probably isn’t doing a great job.

So, the next important tip of Masks for Dummies to remember is: make sure your cloth mask contains multiple layers of material. Or, if single-layer cloth masks are all you have, double them up. The mask(s) you wear must be effective, especially when the fabric isn’t medical-grade N-95 respirator material (which we’ll talk about next time).

Isn’t it funny to say that masked men and women are going to save the world, but isn’t that what all superheroes do? When you put on your mask, you are the superhero. When you put on your mask, you are saving lives.