The Way I See It

A Nevispages weekly feature by Curtis Morton Sr

The way I see it, ‘TO WEAR OR NOT TO WEAR MASKS? – that is the question.

In April of this year, the government of St. St.Kitts and Nevis, mandated the wearing of masks in public places.  Some people kicked up a royal fuss and some blatantly refused to wear them.  Some persons cited aspects of health concerns and difficulty in breathing, while others, more religiously minded, saw it as a precursor for control of the state, over religious freedoms.

So, earlier this month, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis, went a step further, to institute regulations, giving Police officers a right to ticket individuals, not wearing masks in public places, to the tune of $500.00.  Now, that has literally started world war three, in some quarters.

Well I newa!

Some time ago, five masked men entered the local Scotia Bank here on Nevis and proceeded to execute a brazen, high day robbery and to this day, no one has been brought to justice for the crime.  Those days, wearing a mask close to a bank would have sent off endless red flags.

Nowadays, warning signals are emitted, if someone is not wearing a face mask, even when approaching a bank!  It’s referred to as the NEW NORMAL and it’s all blamed on AUNTY CORONA.

I visited my good friend GOOGLE and made some interesting discoveries, which I will share with you dear reader.

“There are different types of face masks including:
• cloth face masks
• medical or surgical masks
• filtering facepiece respirators such as N95 masks, N99 masks, and FFP masks
Face shields, medical goggles, and other types of personal protective equipment are sometimes used together with face masks.”

Now, are there benefits to wearing the face masks?

“One category of evidence comes from laboratory studies of respiratory droplets and the ability of various masks to block them. An experiment using high-speed video found that hundreds of droplets ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers were generated when saying a simple phrase, but that nearly all these droplets were blocked when the mouth was covered by a damp washcloth. Another study of people who had influenza or the common cold found that wearing a surgical mask significantly reduced the amount of these respiratory viruses emitted in droplets and aerosols.

But the strongest evidence in favour of masks comes from studies of real-world scenarios. “The most important thing is the epidemiologic data,” said Rutherford. Because it would be unethical to assign people to not wear a mask during a pandemic, the epidemiological evidence has come from so-called “experiments of nature.”

A recent study published in Health Affairs, for example, compared the COVID-19 growth rate before and after mask mandates in 15 states and the District of Columbia. It found that mask mandates led to a slowdown in daily COVID-19 growth rate, which became more apparent over time. The first five days after a mandate, the daily growth rate slowed by 0.9 percentage points compared to the five days prior to the mandate; at three weeks, the daily growth rate had slowed by 2 percentage points.

Another study looked at coronavirus deaths across 198 countries and found that those with cultural norms or government policies favouring mask-wearing had lower death rates.  Two compelling case reports also suggest that masks can prevent transmission in high-risk scenarios, said Chin-Hong and Rutherford. In one case, a man flew from China to Toronto and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. He had a dry cough and wore a mask on the flight, and all 25 people closest to him on the flight-tested negative for COVID-19. In another case, in late May, two hairstylists in Missouri had close contact with 140 clients while sick with COVID-19. Everyone wore a mask and none of the clients tested positive.”

Do masks protect the people wearing them or the people around them?

“I think there’s enough evidence to say that the best benefit is for people who have COVID-19 to protect them from giving COVID-19 to other people, but you’re still going to get a benefit from wearing a mask if you don’t have COVID-19,” said Chin-Hong.

Masks may be more effective as a “source control” because they can prevent larger expelled droplets from evaporating into smaller droplets that can travel farther.  Another factor to remember, noted Rutherford, is that you could still catch the virus through the membranes in your eyes, a risk that masking does not eliminate.

How many people need to wear masks to reduce community transmission?

“What you want is 100 percent of people to wear masks, but you’ll settle for 80 percent,” said Rutherford. In one simulation, researchers predicted that 80 percent of the population wearing masks would do more to reduce COVID-19 spread than a strict lockdown.”

5 Reasons to Wear a Face Mask

1. Masks protect other people
The primary way the coronavirus spreads is from person to person by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Face masks, however, can block these droplets. They act as a barrier to keep virus-containing particles from escaping an infected individual and landing on another person

2. You may not realize you are contagious
It used to be that masks were recommended only for people who knew they had COVID-19, as a way to protect others around them. When it became apparent, however, that the virus can be transmitted by people before they start showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) and by people who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic),

3. Masks can protect you, as well
A few studies suggest cloth face masks offer some protection for the wearer, but the protective perks are most obvious when everyone covers the mouth and nose. Think of it as a collective benefit: The more people who block the transmission of the virus with face coverings, the less virus there is circulating in the community. This reduces everyone’s risk for infection.

4. Masks may help the economy recover
Masks could offer an economic boon, as well. A report released by investment firm Goldman Sachs found that a national face mask mandate could serve as a substitute for lockdowns “that would otherwise subtract nearly 5 percent from GDP [gross domestic product].”

5. There are few alternatives
In the absence of a vaccine and more effective drug therapies to treat people who are sick with COVID-19, the preventive measures of handwashing, physical distancing and mask wearing are “the three things that I do know that work” when it comes to fighting the coronavirus, Johns Hopkins’ Ernst says. What’s more, these are low-cost strategies that are relatively simple to implement.”

However, there are many who have ‘valid’ reasons for not wearing masks.

Popular radio host, Ari Shapiro and senior science and health editor, Maria Godoy, had the following exchange recently:

“Hi, Maria.


SHAPIRO: Masks stop the spread of the coronavirus. We know that. That’s important. We want to reiterate that. At the same time, I’ve seen people express concerns. One common one is, like, people are worried that wearing a mask might limit oxygen intake in ways that could be harmful. Is that anything people should actually be concerned about?

GODOY: You know, no, not for the types of cloth masks or surgical masks that the general public wears. The fibers they’re made of aren’t dense enough to block the exchange of gases, like oxygen or carbon dioxide. And these masks aren’t so tight that air can’t get in around the sides. Now, there is some evidence that wearing N95 respirators for long periods of time – like an hour or more – can reduce the amount of oxygen you take in, but those masks seal more tightly to the face. And the risk there is really for people who are predisposed to breathing problems, like emphysema. So, you know, and also really only medical workers should be wearing N95s because they’re still in short supply.

SHAPIRO: You mentioned people with emphysema. What about people who have serious respiratory conditions? Is the masks calculation different for them?

GODOY: You know, actually, doctors say people with these conditions especially need to be masking up in public because they are at greater risk for severe disease if they get COVID-19. Even if someone, you know, relies on oxygen when they go out in public, they can wear a loose-fitting mask over their cannula, which is that tube that delivers air under their nose. And if someone with a serious respiratory condition is having a really hard time breathing through face mask, they should definitely talk to their doctor, but they could try a face shield. These are plastic shields that attach to the top of your head, and they go down past your chin, and they wrap around your ears. And they can block incoming respiratory droplets, though it’s not yet known how well they protect other people from the wearer.

SHAPIRO: What about exercising with a mask? You’re breathing heavily. You’re sweating. The mask sticks to your face. What’s your advice there?

GODOY: You know, that is a legitimate concern. If you’re doing something like running or biking outdoors and you’re alone or just with the people you live with, it’s OK to pull down your mask as long as you haven’t been touching stuff along the way, like benches or rails. If you see someone coming, pull up your mask until they pass. Indoor gyms are tricky because we know people who breathe heavily are likely to expel more respiratory droplets, and they aren’t going to disperse as quickly as they would outdoors. So you really have to weigh the risk for yourself there.

SHAPIRO: And let me ask about comfort because people who are required to wear a mask at work all day say that after hours it can become really uncomfortable. What advice do you have there?

GODOY: You know, experts say it’s OK to take periodic breaks from wearing a mask. Just make sure you do it when no one’s around. Maybe, you know, step outside first. And also try out different masks to see what’s more comfortable for you because a mask is only useful if you actually wear it.

SHAPIRO: You mentioned that you can take it on and off. We’ve also been told we’re not supposed to touch our mask when we wear it, so how do you reconcile that?

GODOY: You know, don’t touch the front of the mask when you take it off so you don’t touch any infectious droplets it might have blocked. And instead, you take it off by the earlobes. And you wouldn’t want to touch your mask if you’re indoors, like in a store, where your fingers might have touched, you know, objects that have virus droplets from other shoppers. But if you’re outdoors and solo and you haven’t been touching stuff along the way, you haven’t had a close chat with someone, it’s OK to pull down your mask to catch a breath. You know, as one doctor told me, nobody is 100% perfect with this. Just do your best.”

Have other countries, mandated the wearing of face masks?

“Venezuela was among the first countries to impose the mandatory use of face masks in public back in March.

Vietnam made face masks compulsory for people to wear in public on March 16.

On March 18, the Czech Republic became the first European country to make wearing masks mandatory in supermarkets, pharmacies, and public transport.

Slovakia followed suit on March 25, and in an attempt to dispel away the stigma associated with face masks, President Zuzana Caputova wore a red one that matched her dress during the swearing-in ceremony of the new government.

On March 29, Bosnia and Herzegovina made it mandatory for its citizens to wear a face mask or a cloth covering their mouth and nose while walking in the streets or outside their homes.

On April 4, Colombia made wearing face masks compulsory on the public transport system and public areas such as stores, outdoor marketplaces and banks.

The United Arab Emirates also announced on the same day that face masks should be worn at all times when outside the home.

Cuba followed suit on April 6, and a day later Ecuador decided to make the use of face masks obligatory in public spaces.

On April 6, Austria also made masks mandatory in public spaces, with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz acknowledging that wearing them would require a “big adjustment” because “masks are alien to our country”.

In North Africa, Morocco made wearing face masks mandatory on April 7, with the government warning anyone who fails to comply faces a prison sentence of up to three months and a fine of 1,300 dirhams ($130).

On the same day, Turkey ordered all of its citizens to wear masks when shopping or visiting crowded public places. The country has surpassed Iran in becoming the heaviest affected nation in the Middle East, and the government said it will deliver masks to every family free of charge.

On April 8, El Salvador made face masks mandatory in public, and Chile’s health ministry announced that face masks must be worn while using the public transport system.

On April 9, Cameroon imposed masks for people leaving their homes. A dozen more African countries followed suit soon after: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Zambia.

Nigeria is expected to join them in early May after state governors asked President Muhammadu Buhari to approve the compulsory use of face masks in public.

On April 12, Israel made it mandatory for its citizens to wear face masks while out in public.

Argentina made face masks obligatory for everyone using public transport and out in public on April 14.

On April 16, the Ministry of Health in Poland made covering the face with either a mask or homemade piece of fabric such as a scarf mandatory. This applies to green areas such as parks and beaches as well as public places such as roads, squares, religious facilities, commercial facilities, and marketplaces.

On April 20, Luxembourg made the use of face masks mandatory in public places where it is not possible to keep enough distance between one person and the other, such as public transport and supermarkets.

On April 21, Jamaica imposed a series of new coronavirus restrictions such as a revised curfew and also made it mandatory for citizens to wear a face mask in public spaces.

On April 22, Germany became the latest European country to make the wearing of face masks compulsory when on public transport and while shopping in all of its 16 states.

On the same day, Bahrain made wearing face masks in public areas compulsory for citizens and residents as well as shop workers.

On April 26, Qatar made the use of face masks mandatory for government and private sector employees and clients, shoppers at food and catering stores and workers in the contracting sector. On May 17, the Gulf state made wearing masks in public mandatory, with violators facing up to three years in jail and fines of as much as $55,000.

On May 3, Honduras made face masks obligatory for people going outside their homes.

On May 5, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda said every person who leaves their home must wear a cloth face mask to stop the spread the COVID-19.

On May 10, France made the use of face masks in public mandatory, as the country is set to emerge from its coronavirus lockdown the following day.

Spain made it compulsory on May 20 for everyone older than six to wear masks in indoor public spaces, and outdoor ones when it is impossible to keep more than two meters apart.

Starting from May 26, South Korea made it mandatory for people to wear masks when using public transportation and taxis nationwide. On the same day, Lebanon announced that it would begin issuing fines from May 29 of up to 50,000 Lebanese pounds ($33) to anyone not wearing a mask in public.

On May 30, Pakistan made it compulsory for people to wear a face mask in crowded public spaces including mosques, bazaars, shopping malls and public transport.”

Will I be wearing a face mask?  Most certainly YES!

Am I comfortable wearing a face mask? Absolutely—an emphatic NO!

However, I will wear it, when and where it is absolutely necessary and I would advise you to do the same, dear reader.

For those of us who are Christians, I would like to end with a few biblical quotes:

“Romans 13:7
Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Hebrews 13:17
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Titus 3:1
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,

Daniel 2:21
He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;

1 Peter 2:17
Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Matthew 10:16
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

I just discovered only this week, that some people have taken this wearing of masks thing, way out of proportion.  There is one concerned son, who has his mom holed up in the house since early in March, not allowing her to go anywhere and not allowing her visitors.

Imagine the mom, is sometimes at home, ALL ALONE and wearing a face mask!  That is extreme!

Dear reader, do all that all that you can, to protect yourself from this debilitating virus and be wise in all of your doings.

That’s the way I see it. How do you see it?

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