I have written several articles on the coronavirus and on masks. A series of links have been provided at the bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address a different aspect of the virus.
This sounds simple but it is not. There are several forms of transmission. You have blood and fluid- borne transmission, you have contact transmission from surfaces or physical contact with sick people or their bodily fluids and discharges. Some bacteria have spores and thick cell walls and can survive on surfaces for days. Viruses by there structure can only survive for a short time away from their host. Then you have droplet transmission simple cold, and airborne transmission flu or other viruses. Protection for contact isolation (i.e, blood, fluids and surfaces) you wear protective gear, such as an isolation gown, gloves, booties, hair cover and surgical mask with a clear shield, or goggles. Fluid transmission can also occur with sex, use of condom usually takes care of this problem. For viral transmission via airborne the only true protection is either a N95 mask with protective clothing or a total self contained unit that cleanses the air or has its own air source. SARS and other flu-like viruses fall under this last category. To think Covid-19 acts any differently is simply erroneous. You have a final form of transmission, that is via a vector. For example the mosquito with malaria, the rat and infected fleas with the Bubonic plague to name a few.
Safe distances; droplet transmission is typically 3 feet, the particles are heavier and can’t travel as far. However, if you have a person coughing or sneezing, the distance is much greater, that is why you cover your mouth. Airborne distances are different, the particles are smaller and much lighter, the safe distances are usually 6 feet, but these are only guidelines. Normal breathing being taken in account. Sneezing and coughing increases the distances remarkably up to 12 or more feet.
The problem arises when say, for example, you have your hands full and you have to sneeze what do you do? Do you drop the customers food tray so you can cover your mouth, obviously not. So this is where masks come into place. As I stated earlier, the flu and Covid-19 are viruses, they go through regular masks like they aren’t even there. But what they do is reduce the force of the sneeze, cough or heavy breathing and thereby the distance the particles travel. When you are out in nature and are by yourself, masks are unnecessary. However, when you are outdoors and the distances between people is minimal, you should wear a mask. These are truly gray areas. What about beaches on a hot day, masks are probably not necessary, especially when going in the water. By the way, Covid-19 initially inhabits the nares, so a good dose off saltwater up the nose and through the mouth is probably a good way to help clear out early exposures to Covid-19. When inside of enclosed areas, you should wear masks.
Wearing masks for long periods of time can be unhealthy for the wearer. They should be washed or replaced frequently. If you are symptomatic, you should try not to wear the mask for long periods of time, because you are re-breathing all the contaminates in your airways, so social distancing is your safest bet. Seek medical help if your symptoms get worse. Covid-19 is nothing to mess around with.
I know the WHO has said that 3 feet is okay, however, they have been wrong more than right. If you follow my train of thought, you will agree that 6 feet is a safer distance. You may ask what are my credentials. I have been a student of human anatomy and physiology for over 30 years, I have been an RN for close to 20 years, of which more than 10 years has been in the ICU. I have been on the front line with Covid-19 since the beginning, and have been involved in the treatment of a multitude of positive covid-19 patients.
I just came across this photographic representation of how a general type mask works. I discussed this earlier in this article. But it always help to have visual aid.