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Tony Bensley

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Since the last time I posted in this thread, 14 of my friends have been diagnosed with COVID. Of those, four ended up being hospitalized. Three of them didn't make it, one passed just before Christmas, one just this past Friday and another just today. All three ended up in ICU on ventilators. The fourth one was able to recover with just the help of supplemental oxygen and various treatments. He got to go home yesterday.

How am I handling it? Not well. My wife and I are absolutely devastated. I said a long time ago in this thread that the virus was getting too close and it was only a matter of time before someone I cared about was affected. But as bad as I expected it all to get, I never expected to lose 3 friends in a period of about 3 weeks.

:emoji_pensive:

Mark
I'm so sorry, Mark! This pandemic has been so devastating!! :(
 

TJPC

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I have always liked to have long hair and a beard and would probably never get a hair cut or trim unless nagged into it. About 15 years ago I wore a mid back pony tail. The only thing I like about our lock downs then are that all the barbers are closed. The last time it happened in the first wave, the pony tail did return, and I am getting close here in the second wave. I also stopped dying my beard (no one sees us!), so I am lucky it is not December, because Santa has returned!
 

Carlo Medina

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My healthcare provider is taking a proactive approach and will be reaching out to its patients once their turn in the lottery is up. Since I'm in my forties with no pre-existing conditions, I'm afraid it will be a while until it's my turn. So to keep myself occupied while I wait (and hence why I'm posting in this thread vs. the vaccine one), I've done yet another new purchase:
717xaqarF5L._AC_SL1500_.jpg


No, it's not a technocreature from The Matrix. It's a Zoom H8 handheld (although I'm using it on a tripod) recorder for my acoustic guitars. Playing into an iPad/iPhone is not really a great representation of the quality of the sound coming out of my guitars, so this is my first "semi serious" attempt at capturing the tonal quality of my axes. The nice thing is that it has six additional XLR inputs so when I'm ready to get "more serious" I can buy a couple of cardioid mics (like Rode NT5s) and use the Zoom as an audio interface between the mics and the DAW (currently GarageBand or Logic Pro on the Mac).
 

Johnny Angell

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I think it was mentioned on NPR this morning that because of the new mutations, the medical experts are starting to think that the cloth masks we’ve been using are no longer good enough. We should all be using surgical grade masks. Seems like I’ve read that those are N95 masks. I searched on Amazon and every Tom,
Dick, and Harry are labeling their masks N95.

How can I find the real deal?
 

Tony Bensley

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I think it was mentioned on NPR this morning that because of the new mutations, the medical experts are starting to think that the cloth masks we’ve been using are no longer good enough. We should all be using surgical grade masks. Seems like I’ve read that those are N95 masks. I searched on Amazon and every Tom,
Dick, and Harry are labeling their masks N95.

How can I find the real deal?
That's very bad news for people who are on a tight budget. Those surgical masks don't come cheap! :(
 

Josh Steinberg

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I thought surgical masks were the disposable masks that are multi-ply but soft that doctors and nurses normally wear, whereas N95 masks were N95 masks. Please don’t take this as the gospel but I read that as meaning that disposable medical masks (which are generally cheap) were better than homemade fabric masks.
 
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Mysto

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marv long
I thought surgical masks were the disposable masks that are multiply but soft that doctors and nurses normally wear, whereas N95 masks were N95 masks. Please don’t take this as the gospel but I read that as meaning that disposable medical masks (which are generally cheap) were better than homemade fabric masks.
From what I have read that can be true - it depends on how the homemade masks are made. Generally - the more layers (at least 3) and finer mesh of the right material makes all the difference. Latest info coming out suggests that for those of us that can't get real N95 double masking will do. A disposable along with an outside cloth mask will do the trick.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-19-double-masks-adds-to-obstacle-course-particles-research-shows/
 

Josh Steinberg

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I wonder if part of the issue with the cloth masks is that there isn’t one standard to how they’re being made to so they offer wildly different levels of protection, but that nuance may be lost on most people. And they still have to be worn properly to work at all. So there’s a lot of difference between someone loosely wearing a cut up piece of an old T-shirt with their chin and nose hanging out vs someone wearing a professionally sewn triple layer cloth with proper fittings, but they may all be getting lumped in together as “cloth” when being discussed.

I prefer the medical ones for comfort over the cloth ones. My wife found a cloth one that she prefers over the medical ones. Neither of us are married to the preference - if the guidance changes so will we.
 

Carlo Medina

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Yes I believe they're warning against the DIY cloth masks. The 3 ply surgical masks you can get at CVS, Target, Amazon etc. are still effective (though not foolproof). The best graphical representation I've found on how to minimize your chance at getting COVID is the "Swiss Cheese" graphic:
Swiss cheese.png


No one thing, short of total and complete isolation 24/7, is going to be 100% effective. None of us live in that world. What the new variants means is that they're more easily transmissible than the previous variants. Whether that means, as is currently postulated by medical experts, is that changes in the spike protein may make it more "sticky" to human cells, meaning it's easier for it to enter host cells and replicate. What this means is that the amount of virus you need to be exposed to may be considerably less before you become sick with COVID-19.

Knowing that, and knowing that no one thing outside of total isolation eliminates the virus, the best steps we can all take is to look at the Swiss Cheese model, and reduce our levels of exposure at as many layers of that model as we can. So for the "masks" layer, that means getting a better mask. No more Etsy cloth made from organic hemp masks. Get the 3-ply surgical masks, KN95 or N95 for better protection. For the "limit your time in crowded areas" layer, whereas before if you were spending 20 minutes in a crowded area, reduce that to 10, or 5. For groceries, go during off-peak hours, go in with a plan, get the items you need quickly, and get out ASAP.
 

Johnny Angell

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CNN today had an article saying much the same thing as NPR. However they did not reference surgical masks, only N95. There is something special about how the material is woven that causes it to filter smaller organisms. Perhaps I misheard NPR and they did not recommend surgical masks.

This brings me back to my original question. Everyone is putting N95 in the name of their masks. How do I get the real deal?
 

Carlo Medina

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This isn't the answer you want to hear Johnny, but it's basically faith that they're not lying. You aren't supposed to use N95 if it doesn't meet the specs (hence the existence of KN95, which conforms to China's version of N95 efficacy but not the US's version).

Is there a regulatory body out there making sure every single one is accurate? I mean, there's probably one that has been given that charge. Do they have the people power and resources to check them all? Not by several country miles.

Compound that with the fact that Amazon is the Wild West of product accuracy. If you really want to up your chances I'd get them from somewhere with a reputation at stake, like a drugstore. Which are likely all out of N95s.

One thing you may want to look for in the Amazon listings is "NIOSH certified (or approved)". Again, they could be lying, but it's an extra step to take vs. just simply labeling something as N95. Chances are if they're referencing NIOSH certification, they probably have gone through it. Or else that's a double opening for a lawsuit.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Yeah, even hospitals had been trying to do their own QC for N95 masks as was reported earlier last spring/summer during the first peak of infections. They couldn't just rely on the manufacturer and their supply providers/distributers, especially during the shortage.

IF you want N95 masks, definitely buy from a reputable source for such, and go w/ a reputable brand if possible. Don't know how reliable Amazon would be -- and I don't mean 3rd party sellers on their marketplace.

I've just been using surgical masks (not N95), which had been available (enough) amongst Asian communities pretty much all along. That and using some logic and common sense to reduce risks yet w/out becoming overly paranoid/obsessed about it -- yeah, it can often be a fine line (and balance) to walk and should probably vary somewhat depending on individual contexts...

_Man_
 

jayembee

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Yes I believe they're warning against the DIY cloth masks.

Depends on the DIY masks. My wife made ours, and they are at least double-layered. On the other hand, I wouldn't trust the fancy-design masks (as opposed to the medical-use masks) that you can find in Wal-Mart.
 

Malcolm R

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I don't think these stories about N95 masks are really anything new. I think it's been known since this started that they are really the "gold standard" of protective masks. I have one that I received when visiting a family member in the hospital last year. If you think it's hard to get some people to wear any regular mask or basic face covering, good luck trying to get them to wear an N95 mask. They're very hot and uncomfortable to wear for any extended period, as they're much thicker and tighter than regular surgical masks or other cloth masks (obviously, this is what makes them more effective).

I wear my masks all the time when out in public, but I wouldn't be able to wear the N95 mask for those longer periods. Wearing it for 15-20 minutes at a time while sitting in the hospital was nearly unbearable. I'd have to leave the room so I could take it off for a bit.
 
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PMF

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I thought surgical masks were the disposable masks that are multi-ply but soft that doctors and nurses normally wear, whereas N95 masks were N95 masks. Please don’t take this as the gospel but I read that as meaning that disposable medical masks (which are generally cheap) were better than homemade fabric masks.
Gospel: Do not wear homemade masks. Period.
 

TJPC

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At the beginning of the pandemic, my wife found a pattern for a 3 layer pleated mask and has made dozens and dozens of them now. She made special ones for all the holidays and one with a handlebar moustache pattern for me. So far, these washable masks have done the job well for us.
 

PMF

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At the beginning of the pandemic, my wife found a pattern for a 3 layer pleated mask and has made dozens and dozens of them now. She made special ones for all the holidays and one with a handlebar moustache pattern for me. So far, these washable masks have done the job well for us.
3 layers is very smart and wise; but there are many people out there making homemade masks who are not as thorough, cognizant or attuned as your good wife.

In my neighborhood, I knew of a middle-aged individual who didn’t even bother to learn of the CDC guidelines and thumbed her nose for weeks at those who were taking precautions; then miraculously, and nearly overnight, she was making masks by the droves in order to be in the social spotlight. Single-layered stuff, some fitting loosely, some from cut up T-shirts and many who received; yet they, themselves, were not aware of the distinctions between a mere facial covering versus a legitimate mask. And, yes, many wore them around town.

Based on your past years of postings, I have no doubts that both you and your wife are way sharper and far more meticulous than the many I’ve encountered, in my neck of the woods, during this age of Covid.
 
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