Unmasking Mask Myths

July 3, 2020

In resisting the need to wear masks to combat the spread of COVID-19, a couple myths keep circulating faster than the virus.

Myth #1: “Masks make it too hard to breathe. They lower your O2 and increase your CO2.”

I could appeal to your common sense with mask charts of questionable origin, but this nurse with a pulse oximeter and end-tidal carbon dioxide monitor does it better. Even while wearing three masks at once, his blood oxygenation doesn’t decrease, and his retained carbon dioxide doesn’t increase.

Myth #2: “Masks are ineffective in stopping the spread of the virus.”

Nobody has pretended that a cloth face covering with the consistency of your underpants is as effective a shield as an N95 respirator. Instead, the purpose of masks is to stop aersolized virus particles at the source. I may not have symptoms and realize I’m infected, so I want to stop my breath from hitting you, just in case.

To illustrate this concept, I propose a simple experiment you can do at home:

  1. Hold your palm up to your face. Blow on it.
  2. Put on a mask and repeat step #1.

I predict that in step #1, you will feel a stream of air hitting your hand. That is the exhalation that is potentially laden with respiratory droplets. Those droplets are the virus vectors we don’t want to blow onto other people.

In step #2, I predict you won’t feel that stream of air. The droplets containing your virus do not reach your hand.

Myth #3: “I’ll just wait for a vaccine or for us to achieve natural herd immunity.”

We can’t wait for the deus ex machina of a vaccine, because although there are many promising candidates out there, nothing is guaranteed, and all the idiot anti-vaxers aren’t going to take the vaccine anyway. Even if a good vaccine is coming, we probably won’t get it until the next presidential term in 2021.

Nor can we wait for 80% of the population to become infected and to recover so we can achieve natural herd immunity. There are currently 328,200,000 people in just the United States. If our daily infections doubled to Dr. Fauci’s nightmare prediction of 100,000 cases per day, it would take over seven years to infect 80% of us.*

*((328,200,000 people x .80) ÷ 100,000 people) ÷ 365 days = 7.19 years

Sure, I haven’t subtracted the percentage of the world who may already be immune. This is just a rough calculation to show herd immunity will still take a long time. And while we’re waiting, up to 10% of those 262,560,000 infected people could die. That’s over 26 million people.

The Bottom Line

Governments that pass ordinances requiring masks are acting responsibly. People who wear those masks are acting responsibly as well.

Grow up, and wear your mask. If a vaccine ever becomes available, take it.