Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Who Is That Masked Man?

I'm still not convinced there is any practical reason, other than avoiding a ticket, to wear a mask when you are far away from other people. The chances of contaminating anyone else, not to mention a fence lizard, is remote if there is no one around to contaminate. That said, no one is really positive about how far is far enough and simply modelling how far aerosols can travel during exercise doesn't answer all the questions. Wind? Humidity? Droplet size? Virus viability? I went over this a little before, here, and over here.

So a dear friend of mine fashioned me a mask that seems to be a little easier to breathe through under strenuous exercise, having a somewhat looser weave than a tightly woven N-95 or similar but better than some of the single layer headscarfs I've seen around. I tried it out yesterday, which was a very muggy day indeed. A few quick thoughts after the high humidity test.

One, it worked fine even when climbing hard. I didn't think I was any shorter of breath than I would have been maskless and I was pushing it to around max heart rate a few times on my Gonzales Road/Sierra del Norte loop. Two, when steeply climbing uphill, my prescription sunglasses turned into a rain forest so I had to fiddle with the mask and glasses and finally pull the mask down to avoid running into things. Three, to take a gulp from the water bottle the mask must come down. Four, it got soggy as hell.So it is definitely catching a lot of droplets.

But otherwise it worked great. If you are around people (downtown, running errands, on a busy road or bike path, etc) I think you are morally obliged to wear a mask, even if you want to grump about the health order. Fashion a good one, or one of those tubular things you can pull up around your face. Its COVID out there and it ain't going away. Last thing you want to be doing while riding your bike is unintentionally giving someone else The Bug if you are diseased but asymptomatic. Or, be seen setting a bad example, of which there are enough already. I've seen a number of people milling around the plaza lately maskless in numbers. Kinda dumb, and probably why our New Mexico numbers are going up fast. As Steve said in a comment, when people in his community got sloppy the numbers went up fast.

Be smart out there. The life you save may be your own. Or that of a loved one. As far as PPE, I spent sixteen years working in a Plutonium facility. You let your guard down, you get "crapped up", as we say in my business. So I guess I try to be careful with this COVID stuff. You can check for alpha contamination with a hand held monitor. You find out about COVID contamination when you get sick and its too late.