Why was the American public told not to wear face masks?

If everyone wears a mask, then all the sick people who have minor or no symptoms are also wearing masks by default. There have been reports to indicate that people with minor symptoms could be major spreaders of the infection. Even if there was little to no benefit from healthy people wearing masks, it could still be worth it to have a culture of mask wearing during a pandemic to make sure that most infected people are wearing masks.

Areas of the world that have widespread mask use seem to have more success in keeping the virus under control, so I’m not convinced the WHO guideline is a good one. Medical professionals should be a priority for masks of course, and it’s terrible how badly prepared a lot of countries have been for this.

One strong argument I’ve heard is that if only “sick” people wear masks, people who are very mildly symptomatic don’t wear them because of the stigma. If I “know” it’s allergies, I don’t want to wear a mask and be treated like typhoid Mary. Encouraging everyone to wear masks moves the social pressure in the right direction.

I’m looking at the 3M, 8511, n95 respirator my brother had in his machine shop.
In addition to the mistakes most people will make while using them; not fitting correctly, not disposing when indicated, not touching the contaminated side, etc.
This mask has the nifty little feature of a ‘one way’ valve so my, potentially, virus laden exhalations are free to contaminate anyone that thinks me wearing this mask somehow protects them.

CMC fnord!

By similar token, we don’t have a complete eye on every rock in space nor a way to shift large, scary objects off course.

We will probably always be ill-prepared for irregular, large-scale crises.

Given a 1 in 1,000,000 event which will cost $5t to prepare for, is today the day to invest in it? Probably, no. Even when the cost is much lower, when you have $3m that you can use to buy a bunch of respirators and stick into a warehouse to ignore for a few years until they all get moldy and need to be replaced with all new ones, or take that same $3m to help screen for crazy people buying guns, the latter will almost always win out in the budget cycle. And particularly when you consider: Should we be buying respirators, stocking up on blood plasma, defibrillators, or what? A respiratory disease might be the most likely of diseases to go into pandemic mode, but there’s no reason that it couldn’t be something else. Prion pandemic?

Buying a bunch of junk that you have a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of ever needing is stupid and wasteful. Likewise, not doing so is stupid.

There is no real answer. To some extent the best we have is the assumption that different places will focus on different things and be better prepared against it so that, at least, some of human is likely to survive through any one thing.

Keeping a larger stockpile does not need to mean filling landfills with unused junk. Just to give a completely fictitious example, assume masks expire in 2 years, and your organization needs 2.4 million masks to cover regular use for 2 years. You could do this in a few ways:

  1. Keep a stockpile of 100-200k, and order 100k new ones once per month
  2. Keep a stockpile of 2-2.4 million, and order 100k new ones once per month.

In both examples you use the same amount of masks, waste no masks, and order the same amount of new masks. The difference is how much capital is tied up into your stockpile. The 2nd organization is spending more money on storage, but is also much more resistant to disruptions in the supply chain.

LEAN thinking has become common in business and manufacturing. The 1st is closer to how most of the world operates these days, and the 2nd example would be generally considered wasteful. The money tied into that stockpile of masks is not being invested in something useful to make more money or generate value, so under normal circumstances it’s better not to stockpile. LEAN is not always so good at dealing with emergencies though, and governments should be able to take the slightly more wasteful route to prepare for large scale disasters, especially when lives are at stake. It’s not like masks are only being used in pandemics. They are a basic item that is in constant use everywhere in health care.

Nope. Look, a mask gives you the* illusion *that you are protected, but you are not.

So, why not listen to the best medical experts in the world? **Only wear a mask if you are sick or a medical professional.

Ok, some rando on a MB says “masks work”.:dubious:

The WHO and the CDC and the Surgeon General say “they don’t”.

Who to believe, who to believe?:rolleyes:

That’s crazy talk! No fish tank cleaner for you!

CMC fnord!

I agree it seems the wearing of masks may prevent people from affecting others with whatever they harbor. The part about wearing one to prevent one’s self from getting infected appears to be where the problem is.

Also, cant the airborne infection also get into your eyes and infect you that way? When I see people wearing all kinds of masks and not covering their eyes it seems like a waste. I also see people walking around outside wearing a mask, not near anyone else - is that even doing anything?

That’s not quite what the experts say.

They say masks, properly worn, may have a limited impact to avoid getting the disease and that most people aren’t really wearing them right in the first place. The recommendations are still, wash your hands, maintain distance, and avoid touching your face. And that’s the case even in Asian countries, where those steps seem to be the key ones in addition to early, decisive measures by their governments (which is why Japan is looking like they’re in for trouble - masks or not, they delayed on a lot of this).

Yes, they may have some benefit in general, but the way many people wear them, it defeats the purpose. The false sense of security is very real and counterproductive in many cases.

I’m a little surprised that the hospitals themselves, and especially the counties and states don’t have their own stockpiles. It SHOULDN’T be the Federal government’s problem to supply the country with masks- local governments should be ready, willing and able to supply that. Just like in hurricanes- the city, county and state governments should be ready to take care of business, with the Feds showing up to support and do really heavy lifting a few days later. Same thing here- the Feds should be coordinating the production and shipment of masks/gloves/supplies to supplement and replace the local stockpiles, not having to step in and supply right off the bat.

What surprises me is that there is no PLAN to produce emergency supplies and distribute them in a hurry. I mean, there ought to be a Mark 1 Government Ventilator design made months or years ago that can be cranked out by the thousands by relatively low-tech manufacturers and/or 3D printers. And maybe have standing contingency contracts to make them- i.e. a mfgr agrees that when Uncle Sam comes calling, they agree to produce X number at Y rate for Z price, or they suffer penalties.

That way, when some random disease outbreak happens, the government can just activate/execute those contracts to produce those ventilators- the cost would be known, the time would be known, and the capabilities would be known.

Same thing for masks, gowns, face shields, etc…

I agree that hospitals should prepare for pandemics, just like the government should. We have to expect that institutional responses may be imperfect.

So the Federal government keeps a stockpile and orders all state and private hospitals to source from their stockpile each month? The Federal government tries to mandate that all state and private hospitals maintain their own stockpile with 1 years worth extra of everything, constantly?

Consitutionality renders both of these unlikely.

Or if there is an excess supply, or you can make your own.

You may already be sick and not know it. But the odds of it are low enough that you’re just a jerk if you’re getting people killed by buying the last mask on ebay when hospitals have people clicking refresh on the site, hoping to get a few more.

No, because:

  1. There isnt a excess supply.

  2. You dont know how to properly wear a mask or even use gloves. I worked for the Coroners office for a year (long story*) and we got training on how to properly wear those things- especially on how to take them off. By you wearing one, you wont protect yourself but you will give yourself a false sense of security.

And honestly, just taking the training isnt enough, it has to become second nature. That’s why they are medical professionals- and we are not.

  • yes, my speciality is financial crime, but in some CA County the Coroner handles elder Abuse cases, so I was loaned out to help that office with Elder fraud cases- which is where I learned that scam artists don’t target the rich and greedy, they target the elderly.

People are spreading this for seven days before they get symptoms. In cultures where people wear masks, transmission is way lower because the masks stop them spreading it. Which is why Japan and SKorea have done well.

Masks stop spread, not stop you from catching it. It’s not hard to understand.

The WHO is trying to stop people from believing a mask will save them, and from the masks needed by professionals, being in even shorter supply.

It doesn’t change that culture’s wearing masks, experience less virus spread, due to the masks. Period.

Again, it doesn’t mean the infection rate will improve, that remains the same. It’s still as infectious.
But spread is much reduced. Which means a way better outcome, sooner.

I admit I was talking more from the point of view of living in a country with nationalized healthcare. The government could more easily mandate the state owned hospitals to keep a larger stockpile of supplies that are critical to life in cases of emergency or supply chain disruption. Solving the problem with privatized health care isn’t as simple, but that doesn’t mean nothing can be done.

Not that countries with nationalized healthcare have all actually kept enough stock of critical supplies. All sorts of countries have been running out of basic supplies like masks, and there is push to make things more efficient both in government and the private sector.

The WHO has advised against them. The CDC apparently thought about saying some should wear them. Certainly not a bad idea if you are coughing or sneezing for any reason.

This is speculation on my part. There may be some truth to wanting to preserve them for hospitals, but this hardly needs a big conspiracy. Viruses are inert. They lurk on door handles and commonly touched surfaces. Viruses are light. If an infected person sneezes, it can float in the air a long time.

You can breathe in coronavirus, or you can touch your face after picking it up. Most people touch their face sixteen times an hour. A mask would offer a degree of protection from breathing it in. Not complete protection at all; it could still get in your eyes.

Masks are only really effective if changed regularly. If worn for hours, they become damp, itchy and often less effective. This is why hospital staff like to change them relatively frequently and hate rewashing them. If they get itchy, you might touch your face more, which defeats the purpose. If you wear it for a long time and the mask has protected you, you could still contaminate yourself by reusing it or not “doffing” correctly.

Plus the mask does little standing six feet away wouldn’t do. Is it useless? No. But not nearly as useful as some think, even if it provides a sense of control.

Some infections can, but I haven’t heard one way or the other about the coronavirus. Anybody know?

Do we know that that’s the reason? I’m not saying it isn’t, just a little skeptical because of all this debate and, you know, correlation is not causation.