The Mask Fetish

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Everywhere you go people are wearing masks.  Governors and mayors are writing “executive orders” requiring people to wear masks in public–requirements that are not passed by legislatures and, really, by all rights should have no legal weight but that businesses, either buying into the hype or just fearful of pressure from regulatory agencies enforce on their properties.  And, of course, if the business says “wear a mask or leave” and you don’t leave, that’s trespass and that does have legal weight.

And we’re told that if you don’t wear a mask it’s because you want Grandma to die.

There are a number of problems with this  One is quite simply that for many people wearing a mask is an active hardship to the point of disability.  They (and I, as I’ll get to in a moment) simply cannot wear masks either for an extended period or at all.

I have reactive airway disease. I can’t wear a mask for extended periods of time without ending up gasping for breath. I need to save my “mask wearing” for situations where I really don’t have a choice–activities I’m committed to but where I’ll be shut out if I don’t. Mask wearing is, for me a “scarce resource that has alternative uses.” (Followers of this blog have seen me use that expression before.) How that “resource” is allocated is something I have to manage and manage carefully.

My daughter has it worse than I do so that applies doubly for her.

Other folk have it even worse. I have friends that, because of severe abuse in their past leading to severe PTSD reaction to anything over their face. They can’t wear masks. Period.

When this was pointed out I received the response:  “I had no idea that you and your daughter have a health issue surrounding wearing of masks”

Frankly, that’s none of anybody’s business. There’s a reason the ADA forbids requiring people to disclose the nature of any disability they have. There’s a reason that HIPAA forbids doctors from disclosing information without consent–I even have to explicitly give one doctor permission to access information from another doctor, both of whom are treating me for different issues. There are a handful of reasons why they may be justified in giving that information without my express consent but to satisfy some Karen’s busybody nature is not one of them.

And that, frankly, was a good response to my objections to wearing a mask.  “Too bad.  Don’t care,” is more common.  And I’ve also known people who have received “Oh, you’re just lying because you don’t want the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask.  You’re an evil person who doesn’t care if Grandma dies.”

Well, somebody doesn’t care about others.  But it’s not the people suffering from PTSD, Asthma, Reactive Airway Disease, or a host of other issues which makes wearing a mask a significant hardship.

This is particularly the case when one considers that this routine wearing of masks doesn’t make Grandma any safer.  The person who made the “I had no idea…” comment also said. “It is true that wearing masks would reduce the spread of most airborne infectious diseases and can help people who are sensitive to air pollution.”

Except it isn’t and doesn’t. The masks as people wear them are utterly worthless when it comes to stopping disease. To be useful, the masks have to be sterile themselves. They have to be of sufficiently small pore size to actually stop the infectious material. They have to be properly fitted. The person wearing them has to not. touch. them. once they’re put on. Once they’re contaminated (after exposure to infectious material or just from wearing for more than a couple hours) they need to be replaced with another that fits all of the above criteria.

None of that applies to the everyday mask wear people are doing. None of it.

At best the masks are a fetish, a talisman, the functional equivalent of a lucky rabbit’s foot, or a tribal shaman’s rattle (to scare away the demons). Utterly worthless.

“But…but…why do surgeons wear mask?  Are you going to tell them that they can throw them away?”

In the case of surgeons and their masks there are a number of factors:

  1. The purpose of the mask is to keep spit and snot, and the bacteria they carry, from falling into open wounds on a compromised patient.
  2. The masks are properly fitted to avoid “leakage” around the edges.
  3. The masks are either brand new (and sterile) or freshly sterilized before being put on.
    1. Masks are either not reused or are thoroughly disinfected before reuse.
  4. One put on the surgeon does. not. touch. it.
  5. The masks are changed regularly as they get contaminated.
  6. The masks are used in a clean, sterlized operating theater.
  7. The masks are part of an extensive set of antiseptic procedures which involves sterilizing everything brought into that theater.  Even the patient is covered so that only those body parts that absolutely have to be accessed by the surgical team are exposed (generally incision site, face for anesthesia, and minimal exposure for instrumentation).

None of that applies to the masks that people wear out and about, that they reuse regularly, that they stuff in their pocket between uses, or sit on a shelf, that they’re constantly touching and adjusting with their bare hands (or gloved hands that are contaminated from having touched other contaminated surfaces).

Routine wear of masks does the next thing to nothing when it comes to stopping the spread of disease.

And air pollution?  Really?  When it comes to chemical contaminates (SO2, CO, various nitrous oxides, and the like of air pollution) not even a mask that fits those criteria does anything. You need a mask with an airtight seal and a filter that absorbs/adsorbs those chemicals, an actual “gas mask”. Particle filtration does exactly nothing for those.

But wait, there’s more. What masks do is collect your exhalation, including water vapor. They get damp. Your breath keeps them warm. You create a warm, moist fibrous surface right next to your face. Basically, you create a practically ideal culture medium in which for bacteria to grow. And not just the bacteria of your own exhalations. No, walk into or past a bathroom that had been flushed recently and you’ll pick up fecal matter and a whole host of bacteria that live in it. Now, you pick up a bit of that anyway (ZDogg, who does videos as Doc Vader has spoken on this subject in the case of such matter being picked up by cell phones. People use there cell phones in the toilet, wash their hands, then continue using their cell phones, recontaminating their hands.) Normally, what you pick up is a very modest amount that you immune system is more than capable of dealing with. Gross when you think about it but so far as a healthy immune system is concerned it’s no biggie. Only now you have a culture medium, ideal for what you pick up to “be fruitful and multiply” and you have it right next to your nose and mouth, just waiting to transfer to you.

Even leaving out stuff the mask picks up from around you, the stuff it picks up from you is an issue.  You see, your immune system is in a constant, never-ending battle with various microorganisms.  Normally, your immune system is more than capable of preventing the microorganisms in and on your body from multiplying enough to make you ill.  But when you take some of those, give them a place away from your immune system to grow, and then re-ingest the larger amount?  The dose, as they say, makes the poison and so it is with disease.  That your body could handle what you already had does not mean it can handle the larger quantity that you bred in the culture medium across your face.

This constant improper (from an antiseptic protocol perspective) wear of masks not only does not help but actually increases the chance of illness.

But it’s the fetish that people, with their magical thinking, have settled on and intend to impose on the rest of us.

Ooga booga, folks.

5 thoughts on “The Mask Fetish”

  1. The issue we’re running into is that decisions are either made based on politics & optics (instead of science & reason;) or, in the case of Democrat governors (like my own personal millstone, Gavin Nuisance,) made out of a desire to control the population – considering the EO supposedly even provides for fines (for the business) and shutdown (for the business.)

    And there are no exceptions for medical issues (like my wife’s reactive airway/asthma, or my own chronic nosebleeds – they’re already daily occurrences, I need to get my nose fixed.) Nope – for Governor Nuisance, it’s all about control. Then again, he’s a statist Democrat who made sure that Napa county did NOT get shut down (so his winery/restaurant would stay open) and who took Federal small business assistance while he was at it…

    Doc

    Liked by 2 people

  2. There’s no biohazard burn bins available at the businesses, schools, government offices, for the disposal of these contaminated masks so that tells me immediately that this is all just for show. Had they been serious about this being about safety from a lethal biohazard they wouldn’t be treating treating the masks like just another fashion accessory.

    Like

    1. When the state said that a bandana counts as a mask, yes, it’s for show. Day Job requires one that covers nose and mouth and “doesn’t leak.” So no bandana. (But the exhale valve is perfectly OK.) I now have a steampunk-ed medieval plague doctor mask, with goggles. This should be entertaining.

      Liked by 1 person

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