CORRECTED AND CORRECTED AGAIN 613: Masks, rescinding post #608, getting a jump-start on my offer.

Posted on April 8, 2020

I have now been absolutely assured, by a Town Council member, that, in fact, there will be a distribution of masks of some sort, on Friday, for all Town of Vienna residents who want one.  All you have to do is show up at the offices of Nova Dentistry 307 Maple Ave W #F100, Vienna, VA 22180. 

So, the instruction are at this point:  Ignore what it says on the Nova Dentistry website.  Apparently, ignore what they tell you if you email them and ask.  Show up there — I’m not sure what time, but it looks like after noon on Friday — drive by, and they’ll drop a pair of masks through the open rear window of your car.

I would not mention this except that I have been told, in no uncertain terms, that this is going to happen, by a Vienna Town Council member, and I think everyone should be wearing the best mask they can get, when in public among other people.  I can make a mistake by announcing something will happen, that won’t.  I can make a mistake by announcing something won’t happen, that will.  In this case, if I’m making a mistake, it’s better to make the first one.  Based on an unambiguous statement from a Town Council member, if you want a pair of masks, show up there tomorrow.

So, below, where this says “patients”, apparently, just ignore that. Where it says 2 PM, question that.  But otherwise, what’s posted on that dentist’s own website is your guidance on this.  Less those changes.

Apparently there is a “press release”, somewhere, that fully explains this, but I have not yet been able to find it.

Source:  Used without permission, with a claim of fair use given the current pandemic and shutdown.

Correction:  I am now hearing yet a third story about a face mask distribution scheduled for this Friday at a Town of Vienna dental office.  The story I have now been told is that there will be two sets of hours for this, one for patients, one for the general public. 

But that story directly contradicts what is posted, right now, on the website for that practice.  And it contradicts the plain language of an email that a colleague got in response to an inquiry sent to that practice.

It’s possible they don’t know what they are going to do.  It’s possible that their plans are changing.  It’s possible that what I have been told is wrong.  Beats me.  I’m butting out of this one.  You can probably track this one down if you have the time to do so.  But the plain language of their website and their emails say what they say.

Caveat emptor.

Update to Post #608:  Not an offer to the general public

I think everyone should be masked when in public, around others.  I explain that succinctly on the front page of this website. Any mask is better than no mask.

Recall that I got an obscure notice that somebody in Vienna was going to be handing out masks this Friday, discussed in Post #608.  I finally tracked down the true information and that’s not a mask giveaway open to the general public.  That’s a dentist trying to help out his patients, and the masks are for his patients.

The status of my masks.

Not here yet, but should be coming soon.  I have about 500 adult and 150 child-sized “single-use” surgical-type masks on order, as of 4/2/2020, from a variety of sources.  These are NOT certified as to filtration and so CANNOT legally be used by hospitals.  First box should have shown up today, but everything shipped seems to be moving slowly.  Based on the rate at which my other orders are arriving, I should have some by the end of the week. 

No telling exactly what I’ll get, or when.  By the time I thought to order them, the ordering process was chaotic, to say the least.  FYI, there are a handful of offers for non-medical (“single use”) masks on Amazon that promise delivery times on order of two weeks now.  So if you’re of a mind to deal with this yourself, you can do so.

I’ll put up a sign-up page tomorrow, either here or on Google Forms.  I’m going to distribute these by dropping them off at your home, assuming that the order rate is slow.  I’ll arrange to mail them if not.   I’ll wash my hands first.  If that’s too risky for you, don’t ask for one.

As of last Friday, the CDC says we should all wear masks when in public.  My take on it is that everyone should be wearing the best mask they can get, every time there are in any indoor public space (like a store), or outdoors within “social distancing” distance of others (such as when waiting in line to get into a store).

My plans regarding masks are on the front page of this website.  The masks I bought are in no sense “medical supplies”.  I plan to improve them for better filtration of aerosol particles, as outlined on the front page of this website.  I’m making no guarantees of anything.  The only thing I’m guaranteeing is that I did, in fact, build them as described, with materials as described.

I’ll be giving them away to Town of Vienna residents.  If there’s no demand for them here, I’ll start start offering them to the highest-traffic Town of Vienna businesses that are not yet fully masked up.  If not, then I’ll expand the offer to the immediate vicinity.  If still no takers, I’ll be sending them to a contact in New York City.  Or I’ll just write this off as not a very bright idea.

Please read the front page of this website to see why you may or may not want a few of these masks.  Any mask will comply with the CDC’s direction to wear masks so that you don’t infect others.  These will, in addition, at least in theory, also provide some filtration ability against aerosol particles, due to the use of the Filtrete (R) 1900 or MERV-13 filter material.  But I make no guarantees.

I refer to these as a “shopper’s mask”.  They are not heavy-duty, and not intended for every-day day-long wear.  That doesn’t mean they can’t be used for that.  I’m going to do my best to beef up the weakest piece, which is the elastic, as I modify them.  For sure, they will not lose their filtration ability for some months to years, if you use them sparingly and take care of them as I suggest.  To disinfect, do what hospitals currently do for N95 masks:  Drop it in an open paper bag and leave it for a few days.

My target group is people who might benefit from a mask for (say) one-hour-a-week of necessary grocery shopping, or something like that.  They are certainly not an excuse to get out more.  But they might be handy if (e.g.) you need to take an elderly relative to the doctor, go grocery shopping, and so on.

If you don’t want my “upgraded” masks, but do want a simple “single-use” surgical-type mask (not rated for medical use), exactly as they come out of the box, I’ll accommodate you if I can.  In fact, if I have misjudged, and for whatever reason, I can’t upgrade these to Filtrete-based masks, that’s all that will be available.   In that case, these will be plain, cheap three-ply disposable masks.  They will fulfill the CDC mandate to wear a mask in public to protect others.  They will not do much to protect you.

I’m going to withdraw this offer to provide “factory-stock” masks in about two weeks, because that’s the back-order time of the earliest available disposable masks of this type on Amazon.  If that’s what you want, you can have those off Amazon in two weeks. (Most of their disposable masks are back-ordered to the end of May.  But some are available earlier).

Aren’t I worried about people inhaling fibers?  Well, yes and no.  The materials for the furnace-filter cloth are inert plastics, and the factory-made mask will be between you and the filter cloth.  If they do shed fibers, those should be caught by the factory-made face mask that is the basis for this design.  That is, in part, why I’m building these on top of sonically-welded factory-made (i.e., no-internal-leaks) masks.. So, yes I worried about it.  Past tense.  I have done my best to make sure that’s not an issue.  If it still bothers you, don’t order a mask.

I look at this whole project as a purely temporary gap-fill.  Give it another month or two, and you should be able to get a proper high-filtration mask again.  At which time, you should throw mine away.

I’ve decided to distribute these by the simple expedient of delivering them to Town of Vienna addresses.  If the demand is light, I’ll do that by hand.  If the demand is heavy, I’ll end up mailing them.  I’m going to put up the order page tomorrow, one way or the other, even though the masks have still not yet arrived.  (I have some of all the other materials now).

I’ll also give away the filter material:  Filtrete (R) 1900 or MERV-13 or higher furnace filter material, if you are making your own mask  You can still buy these furnace filters in the stores, but a) you only need a small piece, b) you shouldn’t make a trip just to buy these and mostly c) I bet there’s a lot of people out there who don’t really believe this works well, and so won’t buy this on their own, but would incorporate it into a sewn mask if it were free.  It really is a leap of faith that this little bit of fluff can protect you.  But that’s the story.

Please ask for furnace-filter material only if you are trying to sew a mask for yourself or your neighbors, and want to give yourself a bit more protection that a cloth mask would.  Please don’t ask for that if you are planning to give your mask to some anonymous hospital worker.  You can see my discussion on the front page of this website.  Unless you literally know your mask recipient personally, and they claim that they will wear this mask on the job, please don’t waste this stuff on mask destined for hospitals.  Because, right now, it would be illegal for a hospital to allow home-made masks to be used, and I suspect that hospitals will never again be so desperate that they would use home-made masks as masks of last resort.

If you know a public-facing retail worker in the Town of Vienna who does not have access to a mask, but would wear one.  Or Town employee whose job brings them routinely within 6′ of others, or into public indoor spaces of any sort.   Then do them a favor and get them one of these, or some other mask.  I’ve done the calculation on this website, and (e.g.) workers at our large grocery stores are probably being exposed to COVID-19, to some degree, on a daily basis.  For them, they should be wearing the best mask they can get.

Finally, it goes without saying, but if you already have a mask with any rated level of filtration, please don’t ask for one of these.  A proper N95 is best, a filtration-rated surgical mask is next, and then everything else comes third.  If you have a proper medical mask, wear it and leave these alone.

More details tomorrow.  I’m about to spend a pleasant evening stripping down furnace filters.  Not something I would ever have imagined I would say.

Finally, if you’re of a mind to disparage me on social media for buying these masks, please be aware that I now know far more about this than you do.  At least read my posts explaining why I’m doing this, learn about the various types of masks, and read the CDC guidance on what masks hospitals may and may not use at present.  I don’t mind the fact that you’d be mistakenly calling me a jerk.  Much.  I do mind if you discourage people people from accepting and using these masks, based on your mistaken understanding of the masks that citizens should and should not buy at present.

If you don’t believe me, at least take 60 seconds to look on Amazon.  Anything of any medical value has been withdrawn from sale.  What left — the blue  “surgical-type” masks — that’s what these are.  With high-end furnace filter cloth taped to the front.