Sunday, August 16, 2020

Paradise Lost

Joe Biden has stated his solution to the Covid-19 pandemic. He wants everyone to wear a mask when they are outside for the next 3 months. I assume he means anywhere outside your home.

"Every single American should be wearing a mask when they're outside for the next three months, at a minimum," Biden said Thursday afternoon in remarks in Wilmington, Del. "Every governor should mandate mandatory mask-wearing. The estimates by the experts are it will save over 40,000 lives."
Does this mean you are supposed to wear a mask in your car when driving alone?

When taking a walk in your neighborhood?

Mowing your lawn?

Playing golf? Sitting on the beach? Hiking a mountain trail?

It is unclear what authority the President would have to unilaterally order everyone to wear a mask everywhere. It is also unclear how it would be possible to override the authority of the Governors of the 50 states under the Constitution.

15 days to slow the spread has now become 3 months of wearing a mask anytime you leave your home 150 days later?

It might also be instructive for Joe Biden to examine what is currently happening in our 50th state right now---Hawaii.

Waikiki Beach on my last visit to Hawaii

If there is any state in which Covid-19 should be under control it is Hawaii.

Hawaii is more isolated and able to control access to the state than any other state in the union. You cannot get there other than by airplane or boat.

All passengers arriving in Hawaii have to self-quarantine on arrival for 14 days.

The latest data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority shows that arrivals in the state from outside Hawaii during June were down 98.2% compared to last year. (17,068 arrivals compared to 951,628 a year ago).

A mask mandate indoors has been required for everyone in the state since April.

The mandate was extended at the beginning of July to require that everyone on the island of Oahu must wear a mask outside.

Google Mobility data shows that those in Hawaii are staying closer to home to a much greater extent than the country at large. After all, if you have to wear a mask everywhere why go out?

This is how Hawaii looks on Google's mobility index.

Note in particular the difference between Parks (which includes public beaches, marinas, public gardens and dog parks in addition to public parks) in Hawaii and the nation as a whole.

This is the United States at large.

As you might imagine, in that Hawaii is largely dependent on tourism to fuel its economy, unemployment is a tremendous problem. In May, Hawaii had the second highest unemployment rate in the country---22.6%. Before the pandemic started, Hawaii had the lowest unemployment rate--2.2%.

You have the most isolated state in the union, with the strongest mask mandate in the country, and with people having much less social interaction than almost anywhere in the United States. The economy has been decimated.

You would think Hawaii would have Covid-19 licked. You would think that Hawaii would have something to show for all these sacrifices.

You would be wrong.

Right now Hawaii is seeing the largest percentage increase in cases of anywhere in the United States. 

Cases are up over 1000% since July 3.

This is after the implementation of a mask mandate outside the home.


Is this merely a coincidence?

Whatever the reason, paradise seems to be lost in Hawaii.

A recent survey showed that almost 80% of Americans says they are wearing a mask when in public.

That was double the percentage in mid-April.

However, cases went up nationally beginning right after June 1. As I have stated before, this also is right about the time that BLM protestors took to the street. Is that another coincidence?

I have also thought it interesting that cases in a number of hot weather states (Florida, Arizona, Georgia etc.) started spiking at the same time that heat indexes increased and people started spending more time indoors in these states in air conditioned environments rather than spending time outdoors.

At the same time, cases started dropping in the Northeast states when the weather improved and more people were spending less time indoors. Is that another coincidence?

As I have stated before, I am not a doctor, public health expert or epidemiologist but I consider the data and common sense when you think about mask usage or anything else.

If masks are the solution how is it possible that cases have accelerated in many places after mandates were put in place?

For example, take a look at South Africa which made face masks mandatory in early May. Beginning in March, South Africa has invoked some of the strongest economic lockdown strategies in the world. South Africa even banned the sale of alcohol and tobacco.

Failure to wear a mask when required was subjected to a criminal penalty of 6 months in jail beginning in July.

Perhaps the face mask mandate has helped bring the cases down since the end of July. Or could it simply be the virus is burning out?

Compare the South Africa peak to the Norway peak which has never adopted mask usage.

As I have pointed about before, there seems to be a natural up and down movement of the virus that generally plays out over a 2-3 month period when it attacks an area. Note how remarkably similar these curves are in various countries.

We have seen similar patterns in different regions in the United States.

Seeing Biden's comments and what is going on in Hawaii reminded of an excellent post I saw a few weeks back on "The Mechanistic Reality On Masks".

It seems to me too many people do not really understand the limitations of mask wearing by the general public that this post does a job of explaining.

First, a "mask" is just a filter. A very imperfect filter with a terrible seal, but a filter nonetheless. (In contrast a "respirator", such as a P100 or N95, is a pretty good filter with a decent to excellent seal.)
All filters concentrate what they filter; that's how they work. That which does not go through them is retained, and thus concentrated. You can see this clearly by looking at the filter in your home's A/C unit. Most modern cars have one as well; go take a look (you should replace both every few months, by the way, and when you look at it you'll immediately understand why.) 
So if I wear a mask for an hour then I've taken whatever is in the air and impinges on that mask and collected it. Much of this will be harmless dust, but some of it will be pathogenic. Some of it goes through the mask and I inhale it. The larger particles tend to get caught in the mucosa of my nose and throat, but the smallest ones, which the EPA calls PM2.5 (2.5um and smaller) go right into the lungs. The bad news is that viruses are much smaller than this and thus go right through anything less than an N95, but some percentage of virus-laden particles (typically around 2% for a cloth mask, and perhaps 10% for a paper one) will indeed get caught on the cloth or paper, where they remain.
Since I generally, if working "lightly" (e.g. walking, as opposed to sitting quietly) will breathe about 20 times a minute, in one hour I have taken up to 1,200 TIMES the amount of material that is in one breath and passed it through the mask. In other words up to 1,200x as much material as was present in one breath has now been placed on that filter. The better the filter is, the closer to 1,200x that figure is.
Even if the filter is only 10% efficient (The other 90% either bypasses it or goes right through it) I still concentrated 120x as much material on the filter. That is, even if I wear a very poor mask that does statistically nothing to protect myself or others I have now created a monstrous biological hazard where one did not previously exist because I have taken very small amounts of contamination and concentrated it by a HUGE amount.
Much worse is that I performed this collection everywhere I was during that hour; if I walked from the parking lot of a business to the door I have now collected both nuisance and biological material from that entire path and brought it inside.
Even if the filter is only 10% efficient (The other 90% either bypasses it or goes right through it) I still concentrated 120x as much material on the filter. That is, even if I wear a very poor mask that does statistically nothing to protect myself or others I have now created a monstrous biological hazard where one did not previously exist because I have taken very small amounts of contamination and concentrated it by a HUGE amount..

All it takes is to touch that "filter" and the concentrated levels with your hands and you have potentially infected yourself.

The only solution is to only wear a mask one time, dispose of it or wash it, and wash your hands immediately after taking if off. It this is not not done a healthy person is going to possibly infect themselves.  This is exactly the procedure followed in a medical setting because they know that is what is required for masks to not become a detriment.

For example, look at the first couple minutes of Biden's VP announcement. He takes the mask off his face, he touches the outside of the mask, he places it on the podium and he then touches the area near his mouth or nose three times in the first two minutes. 

Clearly the correct use of face masks is not practical for the general public (or Joe Biden).  If anyone should wear masks, it is those who are sick. They cannot infect themselves and wearing a mask indicates to others they are sick and tells you to stay a good distance away from them. 

The other factor that seems to be missing in all of this is the fact that it appears that ventilation is one of the most important factors in protecting yourself from being infected with Covid-19.

You have heard for years that there is nothing better for your health than to be out in fresh air. The same is true for combatting Covid-19. Covid is most easily spread in confined spaces with poor ventilation. It is hardest to spread in open air where there is maximum ventilation.

During the Spanish Flu pandemic many doctors found that patients recovered most quickly if they were placed outside. 

Back in 1918 when the Spanish Flu was spreading across the globe, many doctors knew that fresh air would aid in the recovery process.

 In Halifax, Yorkshire, a doctor smashed a window with a rolling pin, and he watched his gasping patients immediately begin to recover. In Alberta, Canada, a doctor treated his patients in tents and they all recovered. In Milan, patients were treated in a courtyard because of overcrowding, and the patients outside recovered more quickly than the patients inside. In London, a doctor at the London Hospital recommended everyone sleep in the open air, believing that cool air increased circulation 

In New York, the Roosevelt Hospital placed children on the roof, protected from the wind by screens. They were put to bed with hot water bottles. It seemed outrageous at first, but six hospitals in Massachusetts soon followed the example. At a hospital in Boston, patients were nursed in tents, warmed with hot bricks wrapped in newspaper. Only 35 patients out of 351 died compared to half the patients in other Boston hospitals.

Why would anyone believe that wearing a mask outside would be helpful? If anything, it is obstructing the normal air intake and exhaust system represented by your breathing in and out. A mask may block some large particles from coming in, but as a filter, it may simply trap those and concentrate those on the outside of your mask. 

However, when you exhale naturally without a mask you are also causing any harmful toxins or pathogens to be expelled and dissipated in the air. This does not occur as easily when you have a mask on. You also are building up more CO2 in your body since the mask is preventing it from being expelled from your body. If your exhaust system is not working normally where is it expelled?  The extra CO2 places more stress on your kidneys which ultimately are filtering waste from your blood that end up in your urine.

As I heard one nephrologist explain it, "If you wear a mask for long periods of time you better have good kidneys."

I have seen other doctors say that this is not a concern. What does common sense say to you?

It is popular to quote science and experts today. For example, consider Biden's quote above that mandatory mask-wearing would save 40,000 lives according to "experts".

Which experts? What about the experts who do not agree?

Back in early April I thought it was curious that the CDC, WHO and others all argued that mask wearing by the general public would not be helpful. This did not make sense to me. How could it be that PPE was so critical that it had to be saved for  hospital workers while it was not helpful to the general public?

I began researching a blog post on that subject and found that the actual science backed up that claim. Face masks other than N95 masks were shown to be of little use in almost every scientific study that was done before the pandemic began. And due to the factors mentioned above, masks may actually make things worse.

One of the better sources on mask usage that I came across at that time was this commentary from two doctors that was published by the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

Since mandatory mask wearing became the "thing to do" to stop the spread the Center and authors got pressure to remove this article from the internet. To their credit, they did not. Further, they have posted answers to common questions that are out there regarding their earlier paper.

It is worth the read if you are really interested in understanding the topic in more detail beyond the political and public health posturing that we are hearing right now.

Why is Joe Biden talking about mandatory masks outside? Why are all the public health "experts" and politicians focused on masks?

They have to tell you to do something. You expect them to do something for you.

They told you to wash your hands. They told you to socially distance. They told you to stay at home for 15 days to stop the spread. They told you that there could be no large gatherings ( later amended that it was ok if it was a BLM or Anti-Trump protest). They told you restaurants and bars had to close. They told you businesses had to close. They told you to work from home. They told you we had to close the schools. They told you that you had to wear a mask when you went into a store. They told you if you did these things we could stop the spread.

What else is left? Go back 150 days and close down everything all over again?

It is far easier to tell you to wear a mask whenever you go outside.

At some point the cases will fall (as they will ) and they can say wearing a mask was the answer.

Paradise has been lost in Hawaii (and a lot of other places) since the pandemic descended on us.

However, I think the biggest loss has been any trust that we should have in the public health experts looking at what we have been told is "science.".

Most of the time they appear to be more political than the politicians.

No comments:

Post a Comment