Stop COVID-19 Transmission With Masks

The current mortality (death) rate of COVID-19 is currently quite a bit higher than most strains of the flu. This is serious. COVID-19 transmission happens when you come into contact with droplets containing the coronavirus.

This means that we can stop COVID-19 transmission with masks. When we cough, sneeze and talk, we spray droplets. All of us. Wearing a multi-layered DIY mask can stop the virus almost as well as medical grade surgical mask does. It keeps the droplets from spraying on others, and their mask keeps their droplets from spraying on you.

Sources Of Data For This Post

To write this article accurately and safely, we read:

“Face Masks Against COVID-19: An Evidence Review” written by 19 scientists and published April 12, 2020. This academic white paper examines evidence of use of non-medical masks.

“The Incubation Period of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) From Publicly Reported Confirmed Cases: Estimation and Application,” a report written by researchers who studied 181 confirmed COVID-19 cases, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine by Johns Hopkins University on March 10, 2020.

Below we cover:

3 Ways to Help Block COVID-19 Transmission
4 Ways COVID-19 Transmission Happens
Can COVID-19 Transmission Happen With No Symptoms?
Does a DIY Mask Really Protect You?
How Long is a Person Contagious with COVID-19?
7 Tips for Avoiding COVID-19 Transmission
3 Tragic Reasons for the USA’s Spread of COVID-19
What Does “Flatten the Curve” Mean?

3 Ways to Help Block COVID-19 Transmission

The best things we can all do to get through this together is to:

  • Stay home with one family unit: avoid visitors
  • Wash your hands often, and all surfaces that you touch
  • Wear masks, cotton facecovers and face shields

For a look at dozens of places a nasty virus could be lurking, check out our comprehensive Amazing Cleaning Checklist.

4 Ways COVID-19 Transmission Happens

sneezes spread germs
Sneezing Spreads Viruses

From person-to-person: Some viruses spread easily, like measles, while other viruses do not. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreads very easily.

By contagious droplets: droplets get flung about, from talking, laughing, coughing or sneezing. This means that this type of transmission happens when people come within 6 feet of each other.

When a surface is touched that has virus droplets on it, and then the contaminated hand touches eyes, nose, or mouth. It is important to not touch your face.

Getting “aerosolized” like tuberculosis or measles. Researchers are working to determine if COVID-19 can be inhaled by a healthy human when an infected human exhales.

For more information, see the CDC website on Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities.

Can COVID-19 Transmission Happen With No Symptoms?

Yes! You can definitely transmit this coronavirus without showing any symptoms. People are most contagious when they are showing signs of being ill, such as sneezing, coughing, or high temperature, but a lot of COVID-19 transmission may happen before people show symptoms. There are some reports of this happening, but this is not the primary way COVID-19 spreads.

This is the reason we all have to wear masks. We often don’t realize we are infected, and we are spreading the virus around. Wearing a mask is not fun, but it’s not as bad as being unemployed and keeping the kids home from school!

Does a DIY Mask Really Protect You?

In “Face Masks Against COVID-19: An Evidence Review”, they state that multiple studies have demonstrated the filtration effects of homemade “Do It Yourself” fabric masks as they relate to surgical masks. When you speak, particle sizes of droplets are approximately 5 µm-10 µm (5). Easily sourced household materials showed a 49% to 86% rate of filtration for down to tiny 0.02 µm exhaled particles. This is very close to the 89% of particles filtered by surgical masks.

How Long is a Person Contagious with COVID-19?

On March 10, 2020 the Annals of Internal Medicine published a report conducted by Johns Hopkins University. The researchers studied 181 confirmed COVID-19 cases with “identifiable exposure and symptom onset windows” in order to estimate the incubation period. The report found, among other things:

COVID-19 has a long period (up to 14 days) between first exposure and when symptoms begin to appear.  This means a person may not feel sick, and can transmit the disease by coughing or sneezing.

The study found COVID-19 quickly produces high viral loads, sheds (transmits to others) efficiently, and grows well in the upper respiratory tract.

Shedding of viral RNA (germs) from sputum (spit/snot) outlasted the end of symptoms. This means COVID-19 transmission can happen AFTER a person is done showing symptoms.

7 Tips for Avoiding COVID-19 Transmission:

  1. Wear a mask.
  2. Practicing “social distancing,” and limit unnecessary trips out of the house.
  3. Work from home if your employer will allow it
  4. Stay home if you feel ill
  5. Wash hands regularly and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  6. Cover all coughs and sneezes in your elbow or with a tissue
  7. Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, refrigerator handle, mobile phones

3 Tragic Reasons for the USA’s Spread of COVID-19:

Though widely known since early January 2020 that a highly contagious virus was headed to or already in the US, the CDC was very late to get accurate COVID-19 tests into place. They were slow to become available and the first tests were unusable. The current version is trickling out, too late to help stop the spread as seen in Iceland. 

The federal government did not kick-start into producing extra supplies of masks when they were informed of the coming pandemic. Because of this, there are not enough masks for viruses to protect front-line healthcare workers from infected patients.

Since there is no federal level plan for fighting this pandemic, widespread social distancing was not practiced early.  Some Governors and Mayors took measures to stop the spread early, many states reacted slowly with mandates to stay home. As a result, healthcare workers are so short on masks for viruses that they are wearing them more than once. This puts them and patients at risk.

What Does “Flatten the Curve” Mean?

There is always a sharp increase, a peak and a decrease in the natural course of infectious spread. To “Flatten the Curve” means practicing preventative behaviors will reduce the rate of the spread of infection. The slower an outbreak of anything spreads, the more the medical community can keep up.

Flatten the Curve

Washing your hands, mobile devices and door handles frequently, wearing a mask that keeps you from spreading a virus and staying home when sick, can help “Flatten the Curve.” Slowing the spread of infection means that healthcare systems can handle a steady flow of sick patients, rather than an overwhelming tsunami of sick people.

The simple chart above was originally found on page 18 of a 2007 CDC report.  The report suggested that simple interventions such as:

  • Wearing masks when you leave the house
  • Frequent hand washing – because soap and water really work!
  • Social distancing (no crowds and stay 3-6 feet apart)
  • Staying home when sick
  • Keeping kids home from school

…will slow the spread of a disease so that the healthcare system could keep up.

How Did Other Countries Flatten The Curve?

By wearing masks! China quickly got control by wearing masks and staying home, and then headed on a downward curve of contagion, followed by Italy, Spain, the U.K. Tragically, the USA and Brazil are are still on a dangerous upward path. After viewing the situations in other countries, the rest of the world has the opportunity to learn from this and Flatten the Curve of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

This works! China took the dramatic move of locking down tens of millions of people days before the important Lunar New Year holidays. This was frustrating to residents and bad for the economy. But, it slowed the virus from spreading any more rapidly and aggressively than it did.

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In summary: It might seem overly simple, but actions such as: wearing masks, social distancing, greeting people in welcoming ways other than handshakes, and frequent hand-washing will have a big impact. Washing your hands is far better than draconian measures such as lockdown.