I Hate This ^%&%$ Mask

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It’s in life’s moments of sheer misery that you’re most likely to question and perhaps rearrange your priorities. This occurred to me as I sat in an airplane Saturday with sweat running in rivulets inside the surgical mask I was wearing. Then I heard a PA announcement that would be absurd if this weren’t 2020: “Mask protocol. Let’s stay safe.”

No airliner obviously, but a skydiving airplane with maybe 15 others all, to varying degrees, wearing face coverings, which are now required. Such a delicious absurdity can’t go unnoticed. We’re about to hurl ourselves out of an airplane—something that entails far less risk than most pilots think, but a little more than most skydivers think—and we’re wearing masks to protect against a virus we’re unlikely to get.

Or are we? The data available to judge this risk is hardly worthy of the name, but how about an order of magnitude wag at it? Let’s see, maybe compare it to demonstrated risk of crashing in a GA airplane which, sitting there stewing in my own juices, I deemed far greater than the virus risk. I mean, c’mon. When I got home, I dredged up the numbers. The best way to compare this is demonstrated risk by population, not by hours flown or some other metric.

With COVID-19, most people worry about the death rate, but I’m more worried about the hospitalization rate because more people need critical care than die from the virus. Also, the hospital numbers are more reliable than either the total cases or the deaths and a serious case can cause long-lasting effects. The aviation equivalent here, for comparison’s sake, is accidents that involve injuries. So the numerator is that number, the denominator (the exposure basis) is not hours, but participants. Let’s say 600,000 active pilots. It’s probably lower than that, but I’m being conservative. FAA data typically shows 45 percent of GA accidents involve injury and that includes fatal injuries.

So if GA has, say, about 1250 accidents a year, about 560 will involve injuries, including the fatals. So it’s 93 injury accidents per 100,000 pilots. That’s a tenth of a percent and it passes the smell test against the fatal and overall accident rate. Personally, I would deem this a small risk, but not exceedingly small. Certainly not zero. It’s vastly larger than the airline risk.

For COVID-19, everybody in the country is a participant, not just 600,000 pilots. CDC keeps its own data on this and the latest overall hospitalization rate is 157/100,000, but for my age group, 65 and older, it’s 426. So, my supposition was wrong. The COVID hospitalization risk is higher than the crash risk. For me, it approaches a half percent. That’s not crazy higher, but it is higher. Stuffed into an Otter cabin with 19 other people may elevate it some since physical distancing isn’t an option.

So does that mean that the pilot (or skydiver) who decides to ditch the mask against this low risk is making a rational decision? Maybe, but probably not, for two reasons. The first is that mask wearing (and other interventions) is widespread enough to be baked into the current low numbers, even though mask efficacy isn’t well understood. Would you bet that infections wouldn’t rise if you universally trash this basic mitigation? Second, you’re making a collective not a personal decision since your mask is, according to the accepted wisdom, protecting other people from you.

I’ll remember this when the sweat is soaking my mask on the next flight, but now let’s apply it to the cockpit. The hot button for us is that when we shoot a cockpit video with masks in place, so begins the culture war. We’re either sheep for knuckling under to government oppression or we’re “virtue signaling.” The latter is a perverse morphing of a common courtesy and a simple mitigation step into a moral failing; conformity as an ideological affront. For me personally, a hot button is the phrase “stay safe.” There’s no such thing as safe, there are degrees of risk which we attempt to reduce through various actions.  

If you think the COVID-19 risk is overstated, you’re probably right. In my non-expert but I hope informed opinion, the impact of COVID-19 on aviation is far out of proportion to the actual risk. Unfortunately, the actual risk is just not zero, it’s some value that’s non-zero and we’re all left to decide what that is in a world muddled by extreme politics.

Cockpits of any size, but especially light aircraft cockpits, force close proximity. There’s no choice, other than to not fly at all, which I, personally, have decided not to do. Since March, I’ve taken about 10 rides to altitude in a skydiving airplane where masks are expected and required. I’ll be flying in a small airplane next week and I expect the same standard, which I’ll comply with if asked or demand myself if not asked. One exception: Not doing this in the Cub with the door open. It’s like being outside in a gale.

Sometime in mid-April I recalibrated my internal calendar with the expectation of being stuck in this situation until at least next spring. I have a feeling that’s probably more hope than conviction that things will change a lot sooner than that. I’m already noticing compliance fatigue. By early afternoon on Saturday, we kept the masks on in the airplane, but they were coming off elsewhere. I had to remind myself not to get sloppy, even if it’s just a digit or two right of the decimal point. Of course, these numbers I’ve given here are not probabilities, they are retrospective data points. As the COVID-19 prevalence waxes and wanes, the probability of infection remains a shot in the dark, but it surely must be in decline.

And I realized that I’m not doing the mask and distancing out of fear any more than putting on a helmet, fastening a seatbelt, doing a gear check, sumping the fuel, checking the mags or looking up-range before pulling onto the runway is done out of fear. It’s just part of the routine now, for better or worse. I despise wearing the thing, by the way, but I’m not interested in not doing it just to score an ideological point any more than I’d sit on my seatbelt just to show how hard my head is.

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44 COMMENTS

  1. “latest overall hospitalization rate is 157/100,000, but for my age group, 65 and older, it’s 426.” Sorry Paul to tell everybody this but…, the death rate for 65 and older is 100 %. That’s with or without a mask.

  2. I finally got my first skydive in this year out of a full plane with 12 skydivers on board, including my wife. The DZ I jumped at doesn’t enforce the mask requirement on the airplane. It has been 3 weeks and neither one of us have had any adverse effects other than the additional grass stains on my rig and jump suit due to my less than graceful landing. I have not had any health issues due to any of the trips I have flown either, since any masks worn are removed when door is closed. As the title of your article says, I hate those @#&% masks also.

  3. Ah, the seductive nature of multiple probabilities. I don’t disagree with your conclusion Paul, but you just made it harder to get there.

    The CDC data is less accurate that the number of significant digits implies, due to flaws in data collection, the lack of a consistently-applied criteria for a “COVID-19 death”, and the fact that the criteria itself has changed dramatically over the course of the pandemic. This is what is called an “over-precise” number, equivalent to a bathroom scale that reports your weight in grams.

    Applying that number against the US population will give you a percentage but not, as you point out, the odds of being infected. So taking that percentage and comparing it to the percentage of any other event (plane crash, ‘chute failure, getting nailed by a plane on final, etc.) does not really help you make a rational decision. Would any rational person neglect wearing a seatbelt on the drive to the airport because the odds of being hospitalized due to an aviation accident are greater than the drive?

    Managing multiple risks means that you do the best you can to minimize your exposure to all of them, not just the ones with the greatest odds of occurring. Everyone seems to think a story about a combat vet who survives horrific duty, returns home, and dies from a slip in the tub, is ironic. No, it’s just statistics.

    The easiest way to approach such multiple threats as flying in a pandemic is to do as much as you can to mitigate the risk of each threat. It’s perfectly rational to wear a mask while in a crowded aircraft, regardless of whatever risk you will be assuming next.

    From the standpoint of a highly infectious disease, how is sixteen people in a crowded airplane any different from sixteen people in a crowded bar?

    • How is 16 people in an airplane different than 16 people in a crowded bar? Maybe entirely different. Maybe not at all. No one knows because the variables are little known, much less understood. In the airplane, we’re much closer together than in the bar. But we’re only in it for 15 minutes. With the door open, which it is for half the time, means the ventilation is better.

      As far as these analytics go, we use the data we have irrespective of how imperfect or changeable it might be. I disagree that examining this data doesn’t help with a risk decision because it orders the relative size of it. If the COVID risk was one tenth the crash risk, you might justify ditching the mask. But from what we know, it appears not to be.

  4. In my state the number of COVID hospitalizations also includes asymptomatic people who went to the hospital for elective surgeries and happened to test positive for COVID when they got there. They might not have ever been counted as a COVID case if they hadn’t gone in for that surgery. So using the hospitalization numbers to make risk judgments is potentially problematic too.

    • That’s one of the major issues with this whole covid mess, and has been from day one (at least in the US): the lack of proper data. You’d think that nearly 6 months into this we would have figured it all out, but the opposite is true: the CDC has actually stopped having asymptomatic carriers tested due to political pressure. It’s practically the same as not counting motor vehicle accidents where no one is injured and only counting the ones where there are injuries. What were left with is a guess of a guess as to how infectious or serious this virus is.

      As for the masks, I hate them so much that I do everything I can to avoid wearing them. That means I don’t go grocery shopping (I’ve been getting a lot of takeout and grocery deliveries), I don’t go out except to drive-throughs, or to see my family or go flying (either by myself or with a select few individuals), and I have stopped taking non-essential flight training (I was working on my helicopter commercial/instrument rating; that is on pause, hence how I can afford takeout and grocery deliveries). But in the few cases where I have no choice, I wear a mask but take it off as absolutely soon as I can do so (outdoors away from other people or in my car).

    • It helps to remember that the protocol for wearing a mask isn’t about YOU, it’s to prevent you spreading the virus to others. So the asymptomatic people you mention may sound like they inflate the the stats but the stats aren’t about who is sick, it’s about the dispersion of the disease in the population. You could argue that people who are asymptomatic are the most dangerous elements in this pandemic. They can wander freely but leave a trail of infection in their wake. At least when someone is diagnosed with COVID symptoms, they are quarantined and taken out of circulation.

      I hate the masks too, we ALL do for crying out loud, but its time to stop whining about it and just suck it up until they’re no longer needed. Its a pretty small thing to ask of society if it can lower the death and infection rate and help ensure we don’t overwhelm the healthcare system with infected peple.

  5. i wear a mask when out in public, despite what Paul just pointed out:
    “…mask efficacy isn’t well understood.”
    Master of understatement.

    Perhaps even more than HIV/AIDS, this virus quickly became more political than biological. This has a LOT to do with the low quality of the data.

  6. I remember as a little kid being scared of tall buildings because they could fall down. Then as I grew up I understood that a lot of thinking and care goes into that stuff. And now I understand that there is no such things as “safe”, as you point out, merely the chance to minimize the risks, make some kind of peace with it, and go on. Aviation brings that all into focus with the need to accept people are mostly doing their best from the design and production of aircraft up to the person topping off the tanks. You check what you can and make a choice. This virus stuff is like a rash of ADs and NPRMs during an unfolding situation. In the same way I check the maintenance release and accept it, I accept that most of those running this covid thing are trying. The rest sounds like frightened, angry noise and I don’t find it helpful.

  7. During the last GOP convention the COVID-19 pandemic was largely ignored by the participants. If It turns out that no one out of that crowd gets the C19 cooties – I’m unmasking and getting back on the fast lane.

    Total Number of COVID-19 Cases in the US Reported to the Update: Aug. 30 2020 1:02PM

    USA 5,934,824 TOTAL CASES
    USA 182,149 TOTAL DEATHS
    USA 291,012 Cases in Last 7 Days

      • Sorry, but the ”6%” number is, at best, a deliberate misunderstanding of CDC data.

        Death certificates don’t just list one cause of death. Typically there’s room for 3 or more ‘steps’ that led to a person’s death. So a typical Covid-19 death certificate would look something like this:
        Cause of Death: Acute Respiratory Failure
        Due To: Pneumonia
        Due To: Covid-19

        So, the person had Covid-19 that caused pneumonia, leading to the person dying from being unable to breath. To say that they did NOT die from Covid-19 is as much a lie as to say someone died from “blunt force trauma”, not from being hit by a car.

  8. Although Paul accurately states that we go with the data we have, the data collection between aviation and health is very different. In aviation we have relatively good data collection. There is a central database, standards defined by the NTSB and FAA and trained observers collecting and entering the data. The data is mostly consistent (although Paul can probably attest to there being a fair amount of variation). In the world of medical data collection, there is no central database where everyone enters their data and there are inconsistent standards. There is guidance and recommendations issued by the CDC but every hospital, lab, state health department and physician can choose how to classify and record a hospitalization and death. An interesting side note is that when the covid-19 data is evaluated with bendord’s law. It does not match the predicted distribution. Benford’s law is a counter intuitive observation that in many naturally occurring collections of numbers, the leading significant digit is likely to be small. Maybe Benfords law cannot be used during a pandemic, maybe it has to be used post pandemic.

  9. As a general comment a person’s ability to measure their risk for any particular hazard has become increasingly problematic. Cave man risk assessment was pretty straight forward and generally revolved around the risk of being dinner for something large and toothy.

    Today we are inundated with data. The data is frequently contradictory, of uncertain provenance, unknowable applicability, and almost always filtered through a media source with conscious or unconscious biases.

    Personally I have stopped overthinking the COVID-19 epidemic and practice the standard precautions that history has shown work for any infectious disease. I social distance, wear a mask indoors or in enclosed spaces, and wash my hands more often.

    As part of my job I have to fly with other people in small GA aircraft. I always wear a mask and other than a bit of fussing to get the mask in a position so I don’t fog my glasses I find after about 10 minutes I forget I am wearing one.

  10. What we do know, without doubt, is…put people together in a bar, restaurant, on the line at a meat packing plant, an airliner/airplane…basically any environment with 15-30 minutes or more of close quarter conversation, Covid-19 infections skyrocket. Universities spending boatloads of money to set up classrooms providing social distancing, masking, and extra resources for personal hygiene to provide some opportunity for personal teaching is hijacked by crowded frat houses, packed bars, taverns , and restaurants leading to rapid Covid-19 infections. These are young people primarily, not a bunch of seniors. But everybody locally and potentially nationally is at an increased risk of infection. Sturgis participants have now returned home. 61% of the US counties has a Sturgis participant living in it.

    Every country on the planet who has “opened up their economy” has suffered a huge reemergence and spread of Covid-19. Every US state, county, township, has had the same results. So, the idea that we can somehow bypass what it takes to keep this under some sort of control and not have a huge price to pay economically and in death rates is insane. Just saying its not so is not an effective strategy.

    The US has no cohesive, comprehensive strategy in gathering data, no national health policy, and this stew of misinformation, no information, political grandstanding, and abysmal testing procedures consumed by an out of control mainstream media like meat to a junkyard dog, has 50 different chefs plus DC’s head chef stirring the pot.

    The end result is almost 190,000 dead folks who did not intend to die due to a pandemic in 2020. Even if the daily death rate is cut to no more than 500 people, 250,000+ will be dead by New Years Day. And that is assuming we don’t have more “opening of the economy events” like college bowl games at Thanksgiving, or something else because we are Covid-19 tired.

    Think about how Covid-19 tired the first responders, emergency room personnel, and all those in the medical field are who have to make huge daily adjustments in how, when, and where service is rendered for something as small as a health checkup to heart bypass surgery. And if they decide to give up like so many frustrated folks like us, well, I don’t want to even think about that possibility.

    I hate my mask. I hate having to have one in all of my vehicles. I hate having masks in the airplane. Like others, as soon as I can, off with the mask, which usually means sending my hearing aids flying, and my glasses cock-eyed on the tip of my nose. But I also, like most commenting, do not go to restaurants or bars, no heavily attended events, keeping as much distance as I can from anyone significantly younger than me and/or maskless, and going to the store when only absolutely necessary. I am still flying by myself or with my wife. But where do I go unless I am seeking more solitude than I already have ( which this pandemic has provided plenty of )? But flying definitely has helped me keep my sanity in this toxic mess.

    I just traveled from my home state of Missouri, via car, to Boise ID to tend to a family medical emergency. What a confirmation of Covid-19 mixed messages, and participation by the public one way or another. Throw in multiple wildfires, 2-4 mile visibility, interstate closures, hours of no cell service, unhealthy air warnings, over-crowded fuel stops, has so far, made this trip vividly memorable. This is not a trip but a run against multiple gauntlets.

    Thanks Paul for your writing skills and ability to turn daily hassles of mask wearing, statistical examination ( as much as that is possible), and wry humor offering an enlightening blog that is entertaining, thought provoking allowing folks like us to opine and vent a bit. Covid-19 sucks. So does hospitalization and death.

  11. I agree with Paul: Wearing a mask in August in Texas is just as unpleasant at it is in Florida. But, wearing a mask presents the ultimate conundrum. With most safety measures, such as seatbelts, the purpose is to protect you from unforeseen events – you belt in to avoid seeing if your head is harder than the dash board. However, a mask is intended to protect OTHERS from YOU. Kind of the opposite of normal safety practices. Add to that, the fact that there is no “standard” mask, so no good data on how effective a mask will be in preventing the spread of the disease. Politics and inconsistent data collection only make matters worse. I guess at some point we just need to take the leap of faith that masking is better than the alternative and hope that a vaccine is on the horizon.

    • To muddy the waters even further, it seems there is some evidence (as weak as any other covid evidence, these days) that some masks actually could be worse than wearing no masks. The recent thing I saw is that some of the “gaiter neck” masks (and in general, any mask where it’s easy to breath through) could actually be worse than no mask because it breaks up the droplets into small bits that linger around longer than the larger droplets that would have been exhaled without a mask. With so many variations in quality of masks out there, it seems we’re really just relying on the law of averages that overall the risk is lower

      There also seems to be contradictory “evidence” as to what risk fomites pose.

    • I have, several times, including 2, 8 hours drives. Would drive again tomorrow but my FO would rather airline since it would be an 11 hour drive, so I don’t push the subject, since I may need to fly with that person again. But we still fly in the cockpit with no masks. And now with the release of info that the stats released by the CDC may be 94% incorrect. And the drop zone I jump at has been operating since May there have been no reports of anyone getting sick from Covid.

  12. SWEET distillation of the risk stratification, Paul. It does match my take on current risk. No MD behind my name, but from 40 HCW years and the 150 mask medical studies in my favorites bar{ started designing, donating, researching masks when my Dr. rang bell in Jan,] my impression is masks are 99.9 to 50% effective, filtrate medium and design dependent.50% universally worn would t put c-19 in the fatal aircraft birdstrike risk range in 90 days with better community protection than some vaccines.
    Sadly, many folks see C19 risks in light of familiar data from cars, trains, and planes. Fortunately planes don’t crash into 2.3 other planes, who all crash into 2.3— well, ad nauseam. When uniquely American born Crew Resource Management reached the Fire engine tailboard I celebrated the change in culture that saved pilots and firefighters.Not just a cultural shift, but a shift in how we hear and see each other.
    I wish my understanding both these safety cultures transposed to infectious disease but my DR.s
    Without Borders mentors disillusioned me of that false comfort with their recalls of Lassa, Marburg, and Ebola outbreaks sometimes in the background of tribal genocide. It has been disillusioned by watching 500 firefighters and 50 engines helplessly watch a crown fire jump a mile of Freeway, create its own thunderstorm and start 3 more fires 15 miles away. It was reinforced walking through the ashes of a town that disappeared in 8 hours and left homeless families begging on the streets of San Fransisco a year later.
    This is NOT A CHOICE to be dimmed by the whining about discomfort of deep nasal swab, itchy mask, not being able to have beer with our buddies, or being unable to touch our dying parent. It is NOT A CHOICE to be clouded by the screaming about chancing personal sickness, hospitalization, death.
    Our culture seems uniquely paralyzed by that cacophony while deafened to the Tsunami roaring of our communal CHOICE to deny the CUMULATIVE risk of being SERIAL KILLERS by proxy, each capable of infecting 1,000 people [with novel unknown risk long term impairment] and a 4 day pneumonia drowning death for 5 more souls in as little 11 disease cycles in as short as 60 days. If that seems alarmist consider the CHOICE of creating those serial killers will start with those closest, our family and friends. Our challenge is to grasp this risk, however small, comes with an inherent, truly novel, apparently almost incomprehensible, consequence. History will define us by this choice.

  13. “Our culture seems uniquely paralyzed by that cacophony while deafened to the Tsunami roaring of our communal CHOICE to deny the CUMULATIVE risk of being SERIAL KILLERS by proxy, each capable of infecting 1,000 people [with novel unknown risk long term impairment] and a 4 day pneumonia drowning death for 5 more souls in as little 11 disease cycles in as short as 60 days. If that seems alarmist consider the CHOICE of creating those serial killers will start with those closest, our family and friends. Our challenge is to grasp this risk, however small, comes with an inherent, truly novel, apparently almost incomprehensible, consequence. History will define us by this choice.”

    Beau b…Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to offer your observations and comment. Extremely well said. History will truly define us by this choice.

  14. Let’s see, first we tried locking everything down, with the assurance that this would “flatten the curve” and prevent hospitals from being overloaded. Later, this was extended to the idea that you could eliminate the virus entirely if the lockdown was secure enough, for long enough.

    New Zealand got their cases down to zero after a very stringent lockdown, but as soon as they relaxed it, cases started up again. NZ has the advantage of being an island nation with a small population; nobody else can even get close. Of course, the economic effects everywhere are, shall we say, uncomfortably damaging.

    So, now it is masks. No economic damage, and you can make money selling them. So, if we just had 100% compliance, praise the Lord, we will all be saved! We have been trying to get 100% compliance with automobile seatbelt usage for decades, and still haven’t achieved that goal. This will be as hard, if not harder.

    Next, will be the vaccine. I expect that as soon as there is even a semi-effective one, that it will be released and we will all be expected to line up for our shots, and the world will be saved. Good luck with that one, too.

    The problem with all of these measures is they are “porous”. You never get 100% compliance with anything, and it is not certain that any measure is 100% effective, or even effective at all.

    About the best you can do, as most people seem to be doing here, is assess your risk and your tolerance for same, and act to protect yourself. If masks are a part of that, good for you, but don’t expect miracles.

  15. Very simple, as the Pilot in command you have the last word when it comes to safety. We are in an environment, where we are depleting ourselves from Oxigen by rising up into thinner air.

    There is enough evidence that the aerosols will pass through everything except solid material, through which air will not pass either. The rulemakers don’t care what kind of cover we use. You can use a scarf or even simply pull up your T-shirt to cover mouth and nose….. , so this confirms there is no real science behind this.

    Further the CDC has “secretly” released data that show that if at all, only 6% of the deaths are potentially solely caused by COVID 19, you can see for yourself. In Germany the undertakers are only having 1/3 of the people to burry and are loosing their existence as well. Too many things not adding up that come fropm the MSM nartrative.

    https://www.theblaze.com/news/covid-deaths-percent-coronavirus-cdc

    So what is this all about? It is simply an exercise of training and checking the obedience of the people through the agenda of fear. Fear turns off the brain and puts the people into the flight or fight mode and common sense has already left the house. BLM protests are not visited by the virus, as it is an intelligent virus and can distinguish between good purpose and non obidient normal folks….. who are vulnerable to this deadly dis-ease.

    This fear state stops people from thinking logically and in addition stops them from asking critical questions. Here in Germany the government and the Mainstream Medxia are in bed with each other. The US has the same challenge except for Fox News maybe. There are Scientists and medical experts, lawyers and other professionals all over the place who are willing to offer their expertise to what is going on. Thea are all being ignored by MSM if it does not fin into the agendca of the MSM Narrative.

    Here in Germany it is currently a small and growing minority hitting the streets and being bullied by the police with social distancing and wearing masks when going demonstrating, while BLM and Antifa are being lauded as the are standing up for something important. Double standards are also bein used when protestors in Belarusiia hit the road against the regime, whilst in the own country thea want to forbid the people opposing the current sanctions and politic.

    It is really time to do the own due diligence and question everything. The fish always starts stinking from the head. To close the loop to our flying with a mask, I’d like to ask a simple question.

    Why would you wear a mask that under the circumstances is potentially robbing you of your oxygen, which is important for your alertness and awareness further distracting you from seeing how your copilot or passengers are doing as well, who are trusting you with their life.

    Thanks for reading.

  16. Canada shares a lot of similarities to the US, but the total infection rate is 340 per 100,000. In the US it is 1760 per 100,000. As a percentage of the population Canada test at 4 time’s the rate of the US.

    There is no value judgement here just the statistics as published in the public record. Why there is such a difference would seem to be a question worth asking…..

    • One obvious dissimilarity is population. Canada is the 2nd biggest country in the world with 33 million people scattered throughout, a population smaller than that of California. USA has 330 million in a smaller landmass. In fact I believe the vast majority of Americans live within 50-100 miles of the coastline…so population density is much, much higher. Canada is naturally social distancing by virtue of low population….
      The statistics are misleading however, and the true infection/mortality rate won’t be known until the disease is gone. There’s too many variables in testing rates, protocols, and guidelines to get an accurate picture at this point. My guess is there will be virtually no difference once the statistics are looked at in the future.

  17. Wearing a mask while outdoors at the store, picking up food, in the airport terminal, at the dentist or wherever doesn’t bother me at all. Maybe because I’ve served in the military for three years during another type of war, wearing a helmet, uniform, enduring constant restrictions of freedoms, eating ‘dead’ food, asking permission for everything –

    I learned something of sacrifice to protect us all from an invisible enemy like communism, fascism or terrorism and all of the unknown effects losing that potential war could have on our society. This plague is very similar to that for me. Unknown effects, long term or short, potential for death under the right circumstances, vulnerable portions of the population that need our protection, and the ability to recur into the future.

    Each time I choose to put the mask on I realize it’s potential to increase not only my freedom, but that I can actually play a part to ensure the freedom of others, if even to a small degree to help them not become infected by this serious disease. That thought of having any effect on another’s health and freedom just makes my day. It’s so simple, so effortless, if you will. It’s a real privilege for me, like it was in the service, to have the ability and freedom to potentially have a real affect on another person(s) in such a meaningful way.

  18. MASKS do MUCH more to protect OTHER PEOPLE than they do for you (keeps normal spray down).
    If cockpit crew members all agree to not wear masks and keep cockpit door closed, I have absolutely no problem with that. Cabin area is an entirely different story.

    Be considerate – wear a mask when possible.

  19. Over the last couple of months I have come to know quite a few people who have come down with the virus, all over 70 yrs. a couple over 85 yrs. Eight in total to be exact. Some with mild pre-existing conditions. All have survived. None have come down with your typical flu like symptoms. Very mild nausea, fever, chills. That’s it. Some have been hospitalized for a few days out of precaution because of age, but, that’s it. Nothing of what I, we have been lead to believe would happen with certainty. Some didn’t even believe they had it until tested and told so. I know the opposite side of the spectrum exists. The only thing I can tell you is what is happening on my side. Kind of makes one wonder doesn’t it?

    • Wonder what? The flu will sometimes kill too (mostly the young and old, but not exclusively). This virus just happens to have a higher percentage of cases that become serious than the flu, but is equally transmissible. Obviously that would mean some areas will have their hospitals overrun with cases. But there’s no good way of knowing what areas will be hit harder than others, so universally we all need to take precautions (particularly since the virus can migrate into less hard hit areas, especially since asymptomatic or barely-symptomatic carriers can spread it virus).

  20. I’m a 71 yr old RN (30 yrs, now retired) with infection prevention experience in a major Northern California hospital.
    1. Paul’s assertion that “mask Efficacy is not well understood” is not accurate. As an avid follower of this “situation “ it is clear that masks lower one’s risk. The risk would be even lower if the practice were more widespread. The fact is we are not only potentially exposed by those near us, but also possibly exposed by everyone that those near us came into contact with. That rapidly becomes a geometric progression. Like I told my son when we had the Sex education talk: your not only having sex with her. If unprotected, you having Sex with all her contacts AND all their contacts. The numbers get big quickly.
    Secondly, it’s less of a concern about dying and a much greater concern about the long term impacts in one’s health. There is still a lot to learn but the early evidence is showing possible severe, long lasting, and debilitating side effects. The simple surgical type mask (single use!) can not only save you from a disabled life, but if you are inadvertently an asymptomatic carrier, can keep others from being infected.
    This virus is never going away; it will probably be like our seasonal cold or influenza Outbreaks. Wear a mask to protect you and others. And social distance when able or necessary.

  21. “Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.”
    Plato
    Our opinions on this particular issue are based on the “ knowledge and ignorance” of sources. It will be interesting to see what changes as more knowledge comes forth over time. Consider at one point in time the practice of bleeding people was thought to be a cure.

  22. Much of my decision making regarding covid-19 and masks usage is influenced by the book Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs, written in 2017 by epidemiologist Michael T. Osterholm and writer Mark Olshaker. In the book, the authors make the point that there is only one way a virus stops proliferating. Immunization. Immunization occurs by getting virus through contact or inoculation by a vaccine. The book walks through the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), toxic shock syndrome, Zika, Ebola, yellow fever, and influenza research. All of these viruses still exist in the wild although the spread has slowed by immunization. Viruses have been killing humans for as long as we have been around. By the way, here is a scary thought, the book details that there have been four virus releases from labs in the US, Russia and China over the past 50 years. Another scary thought. The CDC recently found vials of yellow fever in an abandoned maintenance closet. It appears that several of the vials are missing….

    • Actually, it was smallpox that was missing. Much worse than yellow fever. As Osterholm points out, smallpox was one of the few viruses to be virtually eliminated. Almost got their with measles, until the antix-vaxxers helped spread it around some more.