Archives for the ‘masks’ 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.

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