Archives for the ‘coronavirus’ Category



Why we need masks for all



Okay, I am going to put myself out here: we need masks for all. If you live in a country that doesn’t have widespread use of masks in public, this one is for you.


Here is a graph of coronavirus trajectories by country. All those countries in blue have widespread public use of masks, in addition to other measures.

Obviously I am not basing all of this on a few countries that have managed to slow the spread. Here is a
to a summary of 33 scientific papers that show that masks (even handmade ones, we’ll get to that) reduce spread of infection for the general population. Many of these studies are themselves meta-analyses of data. The evidence is mounting that public mask usage is an important strategy to reduce COVID-19 transmission. I want to highlight this paper in particularly which modeled that public mask usage could slow or even stop the spread of an influenza pandemic.

(The CDC and WHO still maintain that healthy people should not wear masks. Preserving them for healthcare workers is important, but that is a separate question from whether they work or not. It seems likely from the evidence presented above that they do help at least somewhat)

Of course, is a nationwide shortage of masks in most countries. Medical grade masks must be reserved for healthcare
workers (if you have some, look for local ways to donate them, many
hospitals are accepting donations). So where do we get the masks for the public? We
follow the lead of the Czech Republic and Taiwan and make our own. Here is a great summary of how the Czech Republic went from 0 to 100% public mask usage, in less than two weeks.


A person makes masks and a “mask tree” where neighbors could donate handmade masks to others. Note that masks (or anything really) can be effectively sterilized by heating above 70C (158F) either in the oven for paper masks or using regular cycle in your washer and dryer for cloth masks.

Studies have shown even basic household materials like t-shirts can be effective at blocking droplets that contain viruses.


Are they
as good as n95 respirators? No. But outside of certain medical procedures, the disease mainly spreads through
, and these homemade masks are still pretty good (though not perfect) at blocking
those. This goes both ways: the masks provide a layer of protection to protect you, but
ALSO contain a lot of the droplets you could be spreading. Some people with the disease don’t have any symptoms at all, so wearing masks is also important to reduce the chance
of infecting others
. Masks, like social distancing, don’t have to be 100% effective in order to help flatten the curve.


Here is a model from the Seattle area, which shows how small changes in social contacts can effect total case numbers. You can see that even reducing contacts 25% has a profound effect on case numbers after a few weeks. The same thing would be true if wearing masks reduced transmissions by just 25%.

I want to point out, that as long as you don’t take risks you wouldn’t take otherwise and keep your hands off the mask, there is very little risk to doing this now as we wait for further scientific evidence. And the evidence is mounting that simple masks reduce risk and slow spread.

In the Czech republic, they went from no one wearing masks to 100% (it
is now mandatory in public) in about 10 days. While the mandatory order to cover your mouth and nose is only a week old, they have seen a slower growth of cases than the rest of Europe despite lots of testing.


Basic masks can be made with just a
t-shirt and scissors, no sewing required. Here is a video (in Czech,
but you can understand just by watching)

and a few more tutorials


Simple mask that can be made with a sewing machine, from Craft Passion

If you get good at making homemade masks, especially the ones with HEPA filters, some hospitals are now accepting donations of homemade masks as well. Check to see what is going on in your local area.

If the papers cited above are correct, wearing a mask now when you need to leave the house for essential chores will likely reduce the time it takes to bring our
cases down, and it can be invaluable in keeping cases low when people
start to go back to work.

We can change our culture from
stigmatizing masks to expecting people wear them.
It happened in the Czech Republic
in less than two weeks. We can do it too.

If you have the time, please watch this video. It was the thing that really made all of this click for me, and it has a ton of great information. Here is a shorter video from the Czech youtuber who started the movement in his country which I also recommend watching & sharing.

Please reblog & add resouces, tutorials, or selfies! There are three main things you can do to help spread the word: 1) share videos & other information on the topic; 2) take a selfie of you wearing a home-made mask; 3) spread the message, with hashtag #masks4all.

Great-Grandma learned to make sheets to supply hospitals for Spanish flu.
Granfma learned to crochet to make Bandages for WWII
Mom learned to quilt to make comfort objects during the AIDS crisis

I can damn well learn how to make face masks.

Hong Kong managed to contain the virus, now it’s worried international travelers will bring it back

Hong Kong managed to contain the virus, now it’s worried international travelers will bring it back:


(source: cnn | 18 mar 2020)

Bracelets for all as new quarantine takes effect

(source: rthk news | 18 mar 2020)

//“Unfortunately, the top-down conversation around masks has become a case study in how not to communicate with the public,” Zeynep Tufekci, a professor of information science, wrote this week in an opinion piece in the New York Times. She pointed to contradictory messages from US health officials in particular – don’t wear masks because they won’t prevent infection, but also they are vital for medical workers – as confusing the public and leading to false claims that masks don’t help.

She pointed to Hong Kong as an example of somewhere masks were common, and infection rates low. Officials must now reinforce that message in Hong Kong, or risk undermining the city’s own hard won safety.//

Trump says he knew coronavirus was a pandemic ‘long before’ it was declared

Trump says he knew coronavirus was a pandemic ‘long before’ it was declared:







That’s a joke…right???

His supporters believe him, unfortunately.

Does he think hoax is a synonym for pandemic?

I’m not very tuned into US politics/current news so I don’t know the details about how he lied etc. However, perhaps I can offer another perspective as a foreigner. Being a Hong Konger, I’m wary of China. So when news of a SARS like virus broke in December, I pricked up my ears even the news were somehow sporadic because of Chinese censorship, but they were solid. We knew 100% the virus was going to hit our city. I ordered my supplies in early January. Meanwhile, businesses were getting ready, while our local government was dragging their feet because they dared not go against China’s narrative (that it was nothing serious, that the doctors who broke the news were rumour-mongering and arrested. They even allowed a banquet celebrating Chinese New Year with over 10,000 people to go ahead which needless to say made the outbreak worse. 5 million Wuhanese already left town and scattered all over the country and the world before things got out of hand and Wuhan had to lock down).

Anyway, I digress. But what I knew must also be known to the US government too. A lot of companies were making preparations. My sister works for a US company and they dived right into enhancing their remote work capacities, and creating contingency protocols for their offices and plants. They were ready for many offices around Asia to work from home starting in the latter half of January. My sister was surprised how quickly her US team was in making this happen. As it turned out, they were following CDC advice, instead of WHO, who was also dragging their feet in confirming the severity of the outbreak and human-to-human transmission because their Director-General clearly takes orders from Beijing (which is another story… won’t expound lol)

It’s clear to me the US government knew about a serious epidermic in China from early January on, as they were able to give recommendations to US companies with Asia Pacific operations. I don’t know why Trump said it was a hoax before or the context on which he said it, but as far as I can see, he or the US government probably thought stopping some flights and international arrivals were enough, or they just sat and watched and thought for a whole month that the virus somehow wouldn’t travel across the Pacific.

A few words on WHO. Their Director-General changed his tune every two days or so. By the time he called it a pandemic, it had been for at least weeks. That declaration was meaningless so Trump wasn’t exactly wrong when he said he knew before it was declared because so many people did too. Doesn’t excuse his terrible handling of the crisis of course.

A Hongkonger working in China for years. When the “rumours” hit the news stands in Hong Kong early Jan, I also prepped my office in China by stocking up disinfectants and masks (that’s how we survived SARS in 2003, which was also originated in China and spread out of control because of information censorship).

Nothing CCP shared with WHO we trust. WHO waited till long enough for the official figures in China are significantly declined to declare it pandemic. As victims of CCP’s authoritarian rule, Hongkongers have known and many medical experts in Hong Kong were already openly warning the world.

Neither the government and people in the West have given adequate airtime before, except that Asians are overreacting. I don’t know what’s going on politically on the other side of the world and Trump is the last person on earth I would defend.

But I’m afraid it’s a very painful lesson to learn here, CCP has lied and withheld information even to WHO and its people (they don’t care if hundreds thousands people die, they have 1.4B population. Even many Chinese are celebrating their victory of fighting the virus already, when unknown number of people died at hospitals or at home alone in the dark. They can’t even put up with other fellow Chinese who call out the CCP government of lies and inactions for weeks at the beginning).

If your governments are counting on the international organisations like WHO, which are obviously infiltrated by CCP over the years, I’m afraid it’s too late and too little they know about the magnitude of this disaster.

Take things into your own hands. Be safe for others, be home so your medics can go home unharmed.

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