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Old 05-10-2020, 08:24 PM
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Has there been any speculation when N95 masks will be available to the public again?


I work at home and use grocery pickup, but there's some things that aren't getting done. All we have are those cloth masks that are essentially worthless to keep from getting the virus (don't they only block like 25% of the particles instead of 95%?). KN95 seem to have been tested from "almost as good" to "as worthless as cloth" depending on the brand, and with Chinese junk I wouldn't trust my life to a different mask from the same brand being as good as the one they happened to test.

So meanwhile stuff isn't getting done. The toilet is running, but I don't have an N95 mask to go to Menards, so I had to order a part from Amazon and live with the water waste for several days until I got it. Obviously there's way to deal with everything that that doesn't involve going to physical stores- I do grocery pickup and try not to breath when they're loading groceries in my car, but it would simplify a lot of things to ba able to go into stores.
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Old 05-10-2020, 08:34 PM
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There's an Ace Hardware store near me; I drive past it when I go to the grocery store. For the past few days, their sign has said that they have N95s in stock. Where they got them from, how many they have, I have no idea.
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Old 05-10-2020, 09:33 PM
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You can look around for R95 and P95 masks as well. They’re the industrial oil resistant versions of the N95. They’re more expensive but they might be easier to find, not as many people looking for them.
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Old 05-10-2020, 09:50 PM
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The Ace hardware near me also claimed they had "N95" masks. Further inquiry they turned out to be the dubious imported "KN95"
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Old 05-11-2020, 10:19 AM
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We have more N95 manufacturing capabilities in the US, but one big source has been declined:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/inves...691_story.html

I cannot figure out why the US govt would give a $55 million dollar deal to produce them at a cost of $5.50 per and then give a very small $9.5 million contract to a company that can produce them at $.79 per, and they have other productions lines they could pull out of mothball status.
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Old 05-11-2020, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Ann Hedonia View Post
You can look around for R95 and P95 masks as well. They’re the industrial oil resistant versions of the N95. They’re more expensive but they might be easier to find, not as many people looking for them.
Some of those industrial or construction equivalents to the N95 masks are used by people doing sanding or other activities where a lot of dust is kicked up. Are those available? Because I checked Home Depot's website and it says they are not. So what are people planning to do sanding doing?

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 05-11-2020 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 05-11-2020, 02:53 PM
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Cloth masks are not worthless, the relationship between the amount of exposure and the severity of any infection is not linear. A 30% block might be the difference between the ICU and asymptomatic infection.
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Old 05-11-2020, 02:55 PM
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Cloth masks are not worthless, the relationship between the amount of exposure and the severity of any infection is not linear. A 30% block might be the difference between the ICU and asymptomatic infection.
A 95% block might be the difference between asymptomatic infection and no infection.
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Old 05-11-2020, 03:00 PM
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I have a bunch. They are hot and hard to breath in. I would like to find some lighter over the ear masks for just running into a store or something.
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Old 05-11-2020, 03:02 PM
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A 95% block might be the difference between asymptomatic infection and no infection.
.....and if N95's were as easily available as tissue paper, it would be a no-brainer.
Since they are not, then do the best thats available.

Its masks and social distancing.
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Old 05-11-2020, 04:03 PM
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Cloth masks are not worthless, the relationship between the amount of exposure and the severity of any infection is not linear. A 30% block might be the difference between the ICU and asymptomatic infection.
I agree with you in theory, but in practice I wouldn't be surprised if many cloth masks are almost 0% effective because misuse. Almost all cloth and improvised masks I see in public are being used incorrectly with one or more of these faults:
  • * Very thin material with very low filtering ability (tightly stretched thin tshirt)
    * Very loose material (bandanna tied across the nose)
    * Poorly fitting material (visible gaps along the edges)
    * Improperly wearing the mask (nose sticking out)
    * Material held to the mouth by the person's hand

From what I can tell, the general public thinks all masks provide 100% protection regardless of what they are made of or how they are used. I don't think most people realize that air will take the path of least resistance. If there is even a tiny gap along the edge, it can mean a lot of the air (or even 100%) will go through the gap and won't be filtered at all. I think improvised masks have given people a very false sense of security and it will lead to a rise in infection. Too many people aren't understanding the science behind masks and they are putting themselves in risky situations without understanding that their mask won't protect them.
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Old 05-11-2020, 04:14 PM
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Are the ones available at the hardware store the N95's with valves? If so, as designed, they are useful in protecting the user from smoke and particles (and will provide protection against Covid-19) when breathing in, but they do not provide protection for others when breathing out. I think the main reason that we are being asked to wear the cloth masks is to protect others if we happen to be asymptomatic. But the respirator N95's with valves will only protect the wearer and not others. In the San Francisco Area, wearing an N95 mask with a valve is banned and the wearer can be fined up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail.

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/ditch-...0511555http://
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Old 05-12-2020, 09:55 AM
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.....and if N95's were as easily available as tissue paper, it would be a no-brainer.
Since they are not, then do the best thats available.

Its masks and social distancing.
See the link in my post #5 where I question why the US government did not bring four medical N95 assembly lines back online where they could manufacture over 7 million additional masks per month for far less than they are paying the tactical gear manufacturer to produce gold lined maks.

7 million more per month is a lot better than 0 more per month and might get them available to the public at some point.
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Old 05-12-2020, 10:10 AM
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Are the ones available at the hardware store the N95's with valves? If so, as designed, they are useful in protecting the user from smoke and particles (and will provide protection against Covid-19) when breathing in, but they do not provide protection for others when breathing out. I think the main reason that we are being asked to wear the cloth masks is to protect others if we happen to be asymptomatic. But the respirator N95's with valves will only protect the wearer and not others. In the San Francisco Area, wearing an N95 mask with a valve is banned and the wearer can be fined up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail.

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/ditch-...0511555http://
Seems like that could be rectified by putting a surgical mask over the N95 mask. I doubt that would be particularly comfortable, but should offer protection to both wearer and others.
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Old 05-12-2020, 10:19 AM
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Seems like that could be rectified by putting a surgical mask over the N95 mask. I doubt that would be particularly comfortable, but should offer protection to both wearer and others.
That would work, but it may also be possible to just tape over the exhaust port. If it's a typical disposable mask, blocking the exhaust port will mean the exhaled air will go through the mask itself. That won't work for the regular respirators which use disposable filters. Those masks typically have dedicated intake and exhaust ports with one-way valves. Blocking the exhaust port on one of those masks means the air won't be able to get out of the mask since the intake ports don't allow air to escape.
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Old 05-12-2020, 10:27 AM
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I agree with you in theory, but in practice I wouldn't be surprised if many cloth masks are almost 0% effective because misuse.
It all comes down to what you are trying to accomplish. Effective at stopping virus transmission? Dubious.

Effective at letting you get in the grocery store to buy food? 100% effective.

Lets face it, that is why most people are wearing them. They wear them for security theater and we/they know it.
  #17  
Old 05-12-2020, 11:00 AM
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The toilet is running, but I don't have an N95 mask to go to Menards, so I had to order a part from Amazon and live with the water waste for several days until I got it.
Can you just turn off the water supply to the tank until you repair the flapper or whatever problem you have?
  #18  
Old 05-12-2020, 11:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdcastle View Post
The Ace hardware near me also claimed they had "N95" masks. Further inquiry they turned out to be the dubious imported "KN95"
Don't dismiss the KN95 out of hand. For practical usage, they are essentially the same. See here for a detailed comparison.

Quote:
1. To be certified as a KN95 mask, the Chinese government requires the manufacturer to run mask fit tests on real humans with ≤ 8% leakage. The N95 mask standard does not require manufacturers to run fit tests.

2. N95 masks have slightly stricter requirements for pressure drop while inhaling. That means they’re required to be slightly more breathable than KN95 masks.

3. N95s also have slightly stricter requirements for pressure drop while exhaling, which should help with breathability.

Bottom line: N95s and KN95s are both rated to capture 95% of particles, although only KN95 masks are required to pass fit tests. N95 masks have slightly stronger requirements for breathability.
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Old 05-12-2020, 11:12 AM
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With regards to improving fit, one way is to use first aid tape to create a seal between the mask and your face. Even small gaps along the edge will allow a lot of unfiltered air to pass through. By taping the mask to your face, you can eliminate those gaps so all the air goes through the mask. Of course that means the mask is harder to take on and off, but it can allow a poorly fitting mask to work at full efficiency.
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Old 05-12-2020, 12:13 PM
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It all comes down to what you are trying to accomplish. Effective at stopping virus transmission? Dubious.

Effective at letting you get in the grocery store to buy food? 100% effective.

Lets face it, that is why most people are wearing them. They wear them for security theater and we/they know it.
Effective at stopping transmission? dubious
Effective at **reducing** transmission? absolutely (per this article's links)

Security theater, well, I thought so over the years when seeing photos of people in Asia wearing masks routinely - but in the current situation, I'm rethinking it.

Yes, it'll let you go into the grocery store (and if you object, there are certainly alternatives )

It's been said many times before, but to reiterate:

N95 masks aside, MASKS DO NOT PROTECT THE WEARER - MASKS PROTECT EVERYONE ELSE.

And N95 masks may protect the wearer - if properly fitted, properly handled, etc. but for what most of us need to do, a regular cloth or disposable mask will do the job.
  #21  
Old 05-12-2020, 12:18 PM
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Oh - and a warning when purchasing any kind of mask online: be very careful of where you buy them. My husband was unfortunately taken in by a site purporting to have them for sale - at a steep price (30ish apiece) and ordered 3. The supposed shipping date came and went. No shipment notification, no masks. Some googling turned up information suggesting the site was a scam. We filed a credit card chargeback.

The same goes for any other scarce-sounding resource. There's a run on composters, of all things - because a lot of people are doing gardening who never did before. We jumped on that bandwagon, and decided a composter might be useful. Well, the 80-90-dollar model we wanted sold out at Home Depot between the time I looked at it and the time I tried to buy it; everywhere else has it for 2-3 times the regular price.... except a couple of sites I'd never heard of it, that listed it for < 60 bucks.

My spidey-sense was set off by this, and I did some googling. Two nearly-identical sites, all created in the past 6 weeks, and more googling showed they were all associated with some well-known scam sites.

I suspect that there will be some counterfeit masks sold even at reputable retailers - they don't necessarily know where all the stock comes from. Hell, I'd be leery of buying something even through Amazon - as third-party sellers there might be dumping all kinds of crap.
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Old 05-12-2020, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
Some of those industrial or construction equivalents to the N95 masks are used by people doing sanding or other activities where a lot of dust is kicked up. Are those available? Because I checked Home Depot's website and it says they are not. So what are people planning to do sanding doing?
There isn't a whole lot of sanding that's essential these days. Building a lamp shaped like an elephant? Looking to sand down those sharp edges, but don't have a mask? Maybe it - along with house parties and group sex - can wait until the pandemic settles down.

If you just can't control your compulsion to sand something, you might look for a real half-mask respirator with P100 filter cartridges. These have limited utility for COVID protection, since they have an unfiltered exhaust valve - in fact, this sort of respiratory protection doesn't meet recent "wear a mask in public" requirements in some municipalities - but it provides even better protection for the wearer than an N95 mask.
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Old 05-13-2020, 12:27 PM
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It all comes down to what you are trying to accomplish. Effective at stopping virus transmission? Dubious.

Effective at letting you get in the grocery store to buy food? 100% effective.

Lets face it, that is why most people are wearing them. They wear them for security theater and we/they know it.
Do you have any cite for any of this? I think most people are wearing them because we've been informed by experts that they have some effect on reducing transmissibility, particularly others if the wearer is infected but (presumably) asymptomatic.
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Old 05-13-2020, 02:29 PM
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Do you have any cite for any of this? I think most people are wearing them because we've been informed by experts that they have some effect on reducing transmissibility, particularly others if the wearer is infected but (presumably) asymptomatic.
Certainly any face covering offers some protection, but that has to be balanced against any unintended consequences. If someone with a flimsy piece of sheer linen on their face stands close to people as if they are wearing a properly fitted respirator, the negative effect outweighs the positive benefit. I'm certain the experts made their mask recommendation assuming people would wear them properly, ensure the best possible fit, and keep social distancing as much as possible. Instead, we see things like people wearing flimsy bandannas loose on their face with their nose exposed while they stand close and talk to other people.

And people are too trusting of other people wearing a mask without considering how well the mask works. If a cashier is wearing a thin mask that fits poorly, the customers should act as if the cashier is not wearing a mask at all. The mask is doing little to block transmission, yet the customers act as if the flimsy mask is 100% effective.

I'm still in favor of mask use, but we need more social pressure to ensure people understand how masks work and make critical choices of how to behave with masks.
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Old 05-13-2020, 06:30 PM
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I think people are putting too much faith in N95 masks. Studies show that less than half of people get an appropriate fit without formal fit testing and when rechecked a year later, many do not use them correctly. For the average, non fit tested person, they are likely to be about the same efficacy as surgical masks which are becoming widely available. For example this randomized prospective study showed nonsuperiority of N95 masks compared to surgical masks at preventing influenza when worn by health care providers. I would assume that most lay people are not formally fit tested and to not have formal yearly instruction in donning and doffing these masks. This can lead to a false sense of security about them. For example, I have a weak chin and despite being fit tested, I have to be careful not to tip my head down when wearing an N95 because in that case I lose the seal, even though the mask seems to still be tight to my face. In other words, you are probably just as safe with a standard surgical mask as you are wearing a random N95 mask.
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Old 05-13-2020, 10:01 PM
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Originally Posted by wguy123 View Post
We have more N95 manufacturing capabilities in the US, but one big source has been declined:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/inves...691_story.html

I cannot figure out why the US govt would give a $55 million dollar deal to produce them at a cost of $5.50 per and then give a very small $9.5 million contract to a company that can produce them at $.79 per, and they have other productions lines they could pull out of mothball status.
Because 3M is making 1.1 billion/ year since January?
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Old 05-14-2020, 07:41 AM
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In other words, you are probably just as safe with a standard surgical mask as you are wearing a random N95 mask.
I would doubt that.

On Johns Hopkins website, they have a simulated study and show n95 stop about 90% of their particles with everyday usage. In other words, how people actually use them. (Beards seems to be the biggest barrier for many mask, rendering them very ineffective).

Surgical masks are less than 20% and cloth masks were a dismal 2%.

I feel these are more a "feel good" measure than actually doing something.
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Old 05-14-2020, 09:09 AM
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Because 3M is making 1.1 billion/ year since January?
So we have plenty of N95s in the US now?

And why award a $55M contract to manufacture what appears to be a grand total of 10 million masks?

Last edited by wguy123; 05-14-2020 at 09:12 AM.
  #29  
Old 05-14-2020, 10:48 AM
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If there were "plenty" of N95 masks in the US, nurses would not have to reuse them from patient to patient or even day to day. In the before times, they were one-use only, after which they went in the trash. And non-clinicians would be able to buy them in drugstores and hardware stores easily.

Since none of that is true, obviously, yes, there is still a shortage of N95 masks in the US. For that reason, I think every possible production line should be running at capacity.
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Old 05-14-2020, 11:18 AM
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So we have plenty of N95s in the US now?

And why award a $55M contract to manufacture what appears to be a grand total of 10 million masks?
The guy you are touting is leading with "mothballed" production lines that are "difficult" and "very expensive" to restart.

And 3M had excess capacity mostly in place (workers needed to be called up) that would deliver sooner.

Your snark isn't helping the situation nor any debate.
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Old 05-14-2020, 12:01 PM
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The guy you are touting is leading with "mothballed" production lines that are "difficult" and "very expensive" to restart.

And 3M had excess capacity mostly in place (workers needed to be called up) that would deliver sooner.

Your snark isn't helping the situation nor any debate.
True, I don't know what the per mask cost would be to reopen them, but we've seen the US govt is willing to pay over $5/mask. With the ongoing shortages, it seems even a meager 7 million additional/month would still be helpful.
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