At the beginning of this year, which none of us will likely ever forget, we saw a threat that just seemed to creep us on us until it was too late to avoid it. At first, we heard about how a new or novel virus was coming out of China and was causing a lot of problems in countries like Italy, Iran, and Spain. Then, we heard about there being issues with the virus on cruise ships and how some government officials on the federal or state level did not want those cruise ships to dock in this country. Then, it was the stories about banning travel from China and then Europe. Still, within just a few weeks we began to see the terrible pictures coming out of New York and other places where field hospitals were being set up and refrigerated tractor-trailers were being brought in to the backs of hospitals to store the mounting bodies.
As the fear and confusion set in we sat in front of our TVs and listened as officials and experts argued over whether or not this was a threat that would ravage the entire country and what we should do about it. Well, in the end, we were forced to shut down major portions of the economy and send our citizens scrambling for the relative safety of our homes. Then, we again watched as our governmental officials battled over who was to blame and how we were going to save lives and our economy. In the end, there were trillions of dollars borrowed and spent to keep companies and individual people afloat when there was little or no way to make a living.
More than two months later we found that those efforts to slow the spread of the virus had largely worked and, even though the number of cases was still climbing and the number of deaths seemed to become a mind-numbing number we came to the point where staying at home forever was just not something that could be sustained. For one thing, we had already lost more than forty million jobs and the economy was teetering on the brink of total collapse, but the millions of people around the country were beginning to feel the stress of being cooped up in their houses all of the time. This was especially true because the warmer weather was coming and people were dealing with their instincts to get outside and live the kind of lives that we are all meant to live.
The Grand Reopening
For a couple of months, it seemed to many people that we would never be able to go outside and be with others again but that was a situation that was never going to last forever. So, once the places in the country like New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, which had carried the brunt of the pandemic in this country at the start, finally got the rate of infections down to a manageable rate, the country as a whole decided that it was time to get back to doing business and getting on with our lives. The main problem that developed out of this desire was that the vast majority of states that created plans to reopen didn’t want to wait until they met the criteria for opening up the economy safely.
As this was happening there was a lot of disagreement about how the process of reopening would occur. And, it was a situation where no one was sure as to what would happen and how long it would take before we knew whether or not the reopening process would ultimately be successful. After all, it was generally agreed upon that a second large scale shut down to the economy would be even worse for our long term economic prospects than the first one. Still, it would take weeks before we knew whether or not there would be a major spike in cases and deaths brought on by the reopening.
Dealing With The Consequences
What we have found in the weeks since much of the country has begun to open is that the coronavirus did not magically disappear as some told us that it would. The fact of the matter is that it has increased in many of the regions that were, at first, largely unaffected by the initial wave. At this time we are seeing massive increases in the number of cases and even deaths all across the southern states, the midwest, and the southwest. Arizona, in particular, has seen a significant surge that has put the state’s capacity for hospital and Intensive Care Unit beds perilously close to full capacity. In many other states including Florida, the plans for moving on to the next phases of reopening are being put on hold as the number of cases rises to record levels.
The only good news on this front is that the states that were hit the hardest at the onset of the crisis like New York and New Jersey have seen significant decreases in the number of cases and deaths. At last report, the number of deaths in both of those states has fallen into the low double digits per day which is on a sharp downward trend. The big question for the states that are seeing the rise in infections is what can they learn from the states that have been through the worst of the storm and come out on the other side.
Most experts agree that the key factor in the success of the states who have survived the greatest levels of infection was that they imposed stringent restrictions on the movement of people, required social distancing in public facilities, and strongly urged the use of protective masks. Further, most experts now agree that it was the widespread use of masks that greatly reduced the transmission of the disease. This was mostly because even the most rudimentary masks helped to significantly lower the number of infectious droplets that were being put into the air, especially in indoor settings.
The Benefits of Protective Masks
As mentioned earlier, there is some benefit in wearing any type of protective mask that prevents some of the droplets that we all produce from being released into the air. The key factor is that the mask must cover the nasal passages and the whole mouth in a way that traps the droplets within the confines of the mask. This can most easily be achieved with a simple cloth such as a bandana and it would be even more effective if it has multiple layers of protection.
That said, far greater protection can be achieved with manufactured masks which were specifically designed for the very purpose. Another factor is that any mask being used should fit tightly over the face to prevent droplets from escaping through open pockets at the edges of the material.
The Gold Standard In Masks
At this time there is no better mask for the general public to be wearing than the KN95 mask. When it comes to wearing your KN95 Mask, the very first thing that must be done is to wash and dry your hands thoroughly before even touching the mask. Not following this procedure will ultimately expose the wearer to germs that may have come into contact with the mask even before they attempt to put on correctly. And, there is no real point in putting on a mask that was designed to prevent you from inhaling microscopic organisms if you start the process by contaminating the mask even before you start to wear it. So, if you are going to wear a mask as recommended, it would be best to follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines and wash your hands for at least twenty to thirty seconds with soap or other anti-bacterial solution until you have created a thick lather and make sure to use lots of hot water while you do it.
Many people have said that they like the idea of singing a short song such as Happy Birthday to count off the amount of time it takes to wash their hands but other people say that they like to concentrate on the washing of each finger of both hands as well as the palm and back sides of each hand. To them, this is a far better way to get the job done and for the required amount of washing time.
Having done your due diligence when it comes to washing your hands, the next thing that you should do is just place the mask against your face with the metal nose strip positioned above the top of your nose. Next, simply squeeze the edges of the metal nose strip down on the bridge of your nose so that you get a tight fit around all of the edges. This action will work to create a tight seal that will, if done properly, prevent any unwanted gaps that could allow airborne germs from entering or exiting the mask. that With these steps accomplished, the wearer can simply pull the two straps of the mask over each ear and make any adjustments necessary for it to fit it all around your nose and mouth without any gaps.
The KN95 Mask: Getting The Full Benefit
If we lived in a world where there was no real shortage of masks, we would be able to use them only once and then dispose of them in a proper manner. However, the reality is that there is a shortage in many parts of the country and we need to find ways to safely reuse masks again and again. This is why the medical researchers have developed a number of processes to help safely clean and reuse masks whenever possible both because of the shortage and for financial reasons.
The new development of high tech machines that employ ultra-Violet light has helped hospitals and other facilities to safely reuse masks but this methodology is not available for residential use due to the potential dangers working with this process and the high cost of the machines required. Still, there are many methods that the average person could utilize, even though the Centers for Disease Control does not have any methods that they officially endorse.
What we do know now is that many studies have indicated that a seventy percent solution containing ethanol applied inside and outside of the mask and then heated in a conventional oven for at least ten minutes at a minimum of one-hundred and fifty-eight degrees Fahrenheit can create a fully functional and sterile KN95 Mask that is ready for use for at least two days of use. Furthermore, every additional cleaning session and reuse will most likely lead to a lowered amount of protection for the wearer.
Where To Buy High-Quality Masks
For anyone of us who may not be able to stay at home or who must come in close proximity with others, the best option available for protection is a high-quality KN95 mask. This is mostly because they have been proven to be most effective against the coronavirus and other pathogens, they are simple to use can customizable to any face, they meet the criteria for medical use, they can be reused safely and the cost is very reasonable compared to inferior choices available today.
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