COVID-19 Mask Advisory Issued
CDC: Cover Your Face Outside
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to change its stance and advise everyone to cover their mouth and nose in public with a cloth mask, Dr. Deborah Birx, coronavirus task force response coordinator, stated during yesterday's White House press briefing.
The strong recommendation applies to everyone; not just those who feel sick, or may have been exposed to the virus.
Dr. Birx also cautioned that masks should not give a false sense of security, and also reminded the public that N95 masks must be preserved for medical workers dealing with the pandemic face-to-face. A day earlier, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti advised his city to cover their face, as did New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday. The Laredo, Texas, City Council got more serious and passed an ordinance requiring anyone age 5 and older to cover their mouth and nose with fabric such as a scarf or bandana when entering a public building, using public transportation and other locations where transmission is increased. Violations carry a maximum $1000 fine.
Why Did The CDC Change Its Stance?
Although COVID-19 is more contagious than the flu, that's not the entire reason. COVID-19's deceptiveness is gasoline to its fire. The general consensus based on data pouring in from around the world is symptoms may appear if at all anywhere from 2-14 days after exposure. After testing positive, some people said they did not have symptoms (asymptomatic) or they had chalked symptoms off to allergies. In a March 30 radio interview, Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director, said COVID-19 was 3 times more contagious than the flu and that up to 25% of people may be asymptomatic. One person infected with coronavirus may infect up to 2.6 people while one influenza case spreads on average to 1.3 people.
COVID-19 Unanswered Questions
Other COVID-19 traits such air and solid surface viability are comparable to its coronavirus cousin Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Death rates are also similar. But the SARS outbreak from 2002–2004 infected more than 8,000 and is blamed for 774 deaths worldwide. Like the flu, SARS causes early symptoms. COVID-19 is stealth and pernicious. Until it is better understood and containment is achieved, strict rules for sheltering in place and stopping the spread are not optional.
FBI Seizes PPE from Price Gougers
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a matter of life and death now. It's worth more than money in the eyes of most, except price gougers that the FBI is rounding up. Meanwhile despite generous donations, the (slow) start of manufacturing and ongoing recovery of PPE from criminals, the current and projected need is still difficult to grasp, let alone overcome.
3.2 Billion N95 Masks Needed
On March 4, Dr. Robert Kadlec of Health and Human Services testified to the Senate Health Committee that 3.2 billion N95 masks would be needed if coronavirus exploded into a pandemic and that 35 million (roughly 1%) existed in the nation's emergency stockpile (Federal Strategic Storage.) At that point, the US had 158 confirmed cases and 11 deaths. As of April 3, one day short of one month later John Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center map listed 245,540 US cases, 6,053 deaths and 9,148 recoveries.
Toward The Future
You have to live in the present to get to the future. Data comes in by the second and it is overwhelming. Things to keep in mind to help you put your best (covered) face forward and head clear:
The statistics are dizzying partially because testing has just begun. Active cases also account for people who are recovering at home and currently in the hospital. Hospital stays may be up to 10 days! We're in mitigation mode and the cases are outpacing medical capabilities. We haven't reached the curve's downslope yet, but every socially responsible action by each of us brings it closer.
Do your part. Be proactive about your health, shelter in place, follow CDC guidelines and now dig out an old bandana, grab a scarf or learn some new sewing skills. Masks are now advised. It matters to everyone! Flatten the Curve.