Post #649: Addendum to my mask order page post.

Posted on April 16, 2020

I decided I should split this off my mask order page post, because I now direct people to look there if they want more information on those mask liners.

Addendum:  I’m doing this because I’m angry, not because I’m civic-minded.

Bottom line, the US CDC is asking citizens to take on additional risk by only wearing cloth masks when in public.  That’s because N95 respirators (and possibly, to a smaller degree, hospital surgical masks) are and will be in short supply.

So it seems like it’s our patriotic duty to forego the use of real, proper, medical-grade masks. I don’t see it quite that way.  And what I do see, irks me.

The US CDC foresaw the shortage of N95 respirators and made no attempt to get ahead of the game by working up a protocol for their re-use.  The most common 3M N95 typically can be re-used until the elastic wears out.  But the protocol for safe re-use had to come out of the hospitals.  Now everybody knows the drill (drop the mask in a paper bag and let it sit).  Much risk to hospital workers could have been avoided if the CDC had been willing to think outside the box.

The US FDA prevented the importation of perfectly functional Chinese-made KN95 respirators for use in US hospitals.  That only changed, what, early last week?  And only after many important people, including front-line health care workers, more-or-less beat on the FDA to get them to change their mind.  Even now, use is on a caveat emptor basis, and (as I understand it) hospitals risk legal liability if they managed to purchase and use knock-offs instead of the real thing.

Hospitals, at present — at least hospitals around here — don’t want your commercial masks unless you can give them full, unopened boxes of them.   So it’s not like, if you have a (e.g.) handful that you had for use a dust masks, that you could give them to a hospital anyway.  The CDC should have said, wear them if you have them.  Instead, they said, wear cloth.

Finally, the CDC apparently is living in some fictional universe where ordinary citizens might divert large numbers of proper medical masks from hospitals by purchasing them through mass-market outlets.  That’s why they specified cloth.  But that ship sailed, oh, about a month ago.  And that universe hasn’t existed since.  I’ve gone over that in posts here.  You can still roll the dice on Ebay, if you wish, but that’s not going to divert a meaningful number of masks away from the hospital supply chain.  And no responsible mass marketers (Amazon, Home Depot, and so on) will let you get your hand on anything that can plausibly be used by hospitals and first responders.

So I don’t see this as some great and logical  sacrifice.  I see this several stodgy bureaucracies who couldn’t get their acts together.  And this is one of the minor results.

If the Feds are going to recommend that we use cloth masks only, as a piece of social engineering in response to their earlier failures to be proactive,the only thing we the people can do is to try our best not to die from it.  If you’re going to wear a cloth mask, wear the best one you can.  And if you believe these liners will enhance your mask’s performance, please feel free to order some.

And pass the word, as you see fit.