We don’t have substantive data supporting why masking is a good idea. Let’s get that out the way right upfront. In theory, the particles of the SARS-COV2 virus are too small to be stopped by anything short of an N95 mask, and we aren’t sure even these are sufficient. So you could mask up until the cows come home and still contract the virus by breathing it in right through that annoying mask you’re wearing.
So why mask up at all?
Great question, given what I’ve just written above. Here is the the horrendously poorly explained logic behind the masking campaign, that even people who mask up, often don’t understand. It isn’t to protect yourself, it is to protect everyone around you.
I can hear everyone going WTF, so allow me to explain. The SARS-COV2 virus particles are airborne. If you breathe, sneeze or cough, things get airborne, and if you’re infected, the potential spread of the virus, if you’re unmasked, is almost unlimited. The SARS-NCOV virus can move around within a building, between floors and rooms, simply by utilizing the air-conditioning ducts. Outside, it’s spread is almost unlimited, unless it is restricted at the point of exit.
Cover your face with a mask and a large portion of the air you expel is restricted by the mask. Even if you cough, the dispersion of the volume of air expelled by your lungs is restricted. Think of it like a flood wall erected to catch really big waves. Even if water spills over the wall, the wall has broken the impetus of the water and the water doesn’t travel much further beyond the wall. That’s the point of a mask. This video on Twitter provides one of the best representations of how the air we expel can spread.
Wearing a mask really is simply an act of compassion, showing you care about your fellow man and limiting the infectiousness of your breath. Remember some of us are fortunate and can contract the disease and carry the virus and yet, not even be aware of it. We are, in medical terms, asymptomatic.
Again, this has nothing to do with vaccination, don’t confuse the two things. Vaccinated people can still contract the virus and if you are unvaccinated by personal choice, you can still choose to protect those who may be at risk. The person across from you at the Walmart counter may be immunocompromised. The truth is, we don’t know how our actions impact others and if we want to be considerate of others, we wear that mask.
They are annoying, I’ll be the first to admit it, but they do serve a purpose. Over time, as Covid becomes a common affliction, much like influenza, we will develop immunity, but only to the specific strain circulating. If we have learned anything from influenza over the last fifty years and if Covid follows a similar path, it will be with us for generations to come. It cannot, with current medical technology, be eradicated. We need to manage it and be considerate of those most at risk.