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A Voice for Private Physicians Since 1943

COVID-19: Is Your Mask Safe and Effective?

Now that Omicron has appeared on the scene, and mask mandates are being reinstituted, are you bringing back your old masks?

Some places are now requiring N95 masks, which are claimed to remove 95% of particles above a certain size—if and only if properly fitted. This is a process that takes about 15 minutes. Men need to be clean-shaven because even a one-day stubble can interfere with the seal. So don’t just take a mask out of a box, put it on over your beard, and expect it to work as advertised.

Here is a photo of a mask manufactured 10 years ago:

New N95 masks don’t have the warning, but still have the same dangers. They can be safely worn only for a limited period (say 3 hours). One of many problems is that they interfere with gas exchange. Yet some workers (e.g., firefighters or EMTs) may be required to wear them almost continuously (even when sleeping) for an entire shift, which might be 24 hours or longer. Most people have headaches and other symptoms. If they don’t, their mask probably doesn’t fit properly.

Is something different about Omicron? It might penetrate your cells more efficiently, but it is the same size as other variants, and there are no differences in electrical charge or other factors that could affect its ability to go through or around masks.                

What does the N95 mandate tell you? It tells me that the authorities do not believe that an ordinary mask works. They nonetheless seem unconcerned about the health effects of enforcement efforts that have included arresting young mothers, beating old women, and pepper-spraying children.

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