In Case You Wondered

Just read a piece in the New York Post – “This is the fabric for DIY Face masks, according to science“.

“Much to the delight of many an American grandmother, the quilt fabric performed best as a protective shield against respiratory droplets.”

Anybody surprised? Of course face masks made with a good quality cotton quilting fabric stops cough droplets better than other sorts of home made face coverings.

“Without a mask, droplets from the simulated cough flew more than 8 feet and up to 12. They traveled 3 feet when the bandanna was worn; 15 inches with the folded handkerchief; and 8 inches with the surgical-grade masks.
The stitched, two-ply quilt mask, however, halted droplets after just 2 and ½ inches.
Why quilted? The study suggests that the masks made with quilting fabric fit faces better than loosely tied material. Plus, sturdy two-ply material gives a mask an added layer of protection, other studies have shown.”
So all my efforts haven’t been in vain! I’m now approaching 300 masks – I’ve really lost count. I keep making batches of a dozen. This last week I made another 36.

Latest Face Masks

I keep giving them away. Sent another dozen to my niece in Toronto last week. Have handed them out as I’ve gone to have my haircut, my nails done, had a filling repaired, saw the massage therapist…

This pandemic is going to be going on for a lot longer than people want to believe. Washable face masks are on the way to becoming essential for any socializing if we want to keep infection at some kind of containment level!

I’ve been using bolder, more colourful fabrics with each new batch. My personal collection is closing in on a dozen – I choose a face mask to go with my outfit. Why not, hey? It might as well be a fashion accessory if I have to wear it. And I do wear one whenever I’m in public, everywhere I go (except while actually eating in a restaurant -which I’ve done twice so far).

BTW, this is not all the sewing I’ve done since I last posted. I’ve finally got my latest quilt sandwiched, pinned, and ready to quilt; I made a cotton nightgown for a friend of mine having a birthday on Thursday; I’ve been puttering with Kaleidoscope Table Runners for a class that’s not going to happen. I bought small amounts of fabric yesterday to add to two different sets of octagon “blocks” so I can finish the runners and get on with sewing some summer clothes for myself. Oh yes, and I put elastic inserts into the waists of 7 pairs of pants! And took out excess fabric from the seat of three pairs of jeans I bought at Costco.

I’ve not been idle!

A Must Read by Atul Gawande

I’ve passed on bits of information about the COVID-19 pandemic before. I just read this article by Atul Gawande – a surgeon and medical writer) which I’ve summarized; however, I really recommend reading his whole article if, for nothing else, than to enjoy the clarity of his writing (click on the title to get to the article).

From The New Yorker

Amid the Corona Virus Crisis,
A Regimen For Re-Entry

Atul Gawande

The New Yorker, May 13 2020

________________________________________

[I’m both quoting and summarizing Gawande’s discussion in what I’ve shared below]

“… Hospitals have learned how to avoid becoming sites of spread. When the time is right to lighten up on the lockdown and bring people back to work, there are wider lessons to be learned from places that never locked down in the first place.

These lessons point toward an approach that we might think of as a combination therapy—like a drug cocktail. Its elements are all familiar: hygiene measures, screening, distancing, and masks. Each has flaws. Skip one, and the treatment won’t work. But, when taken together, and taken seriously, they shut down the virus.”

  1. Cleaning your hands is essential to stopping the transfer of infectious droplets from surfaces to your nose, mouth, and eyes. Frequency matters – The key, seems to be washing or sanitizing your hands every time you go into or out of a group environment, and every couple of hours while you’re in it; plus disinfecting high-touch surfaces at least daily (like your phone). BTW environmental transmission (i.e via touching things) may account for as little as 6% of COVID-19 infections, he says.
  2. The virus spreads primarily through respiratory droplets emitted by infected people when they cough, sneeze, talk or simply exhale (singing in a group is very hazardous!). That’s why physical distancing is so important – the six foot rule. While not perfect (some people’s sneezes can travel up to 20 feet!), it helps a lot since most droplets seem to fall within a 6 foot radius.
  3. COVID-19 is not actually crazy infectious – an infected person might infect 2-3 people while going about ordinary life but that means the disease spreads. Exposure time matters: less than 15 minutes with an exposed person makes spread unlikely. Again, the 6 foot rule goes a long way to shutting down this risk.
  4. In the health setting daily screening of all employees, patients, and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 is crucial for preventing the spread of the disease. People are asked to confirm that they have not developed:a new fever,
    cough,
    sore throat,
    shortness of breath,
    loss of taste of smell,
    or even just nasal congestion or a runny nose – [My take-away from this, is we need to monitor ourselves for these symptoms constantly and keep away from other people should we experience any of them and stay away for another 72 hours after we’re feeling better.]
  5. The critical thing about COVID-19 is that the virus can make people infectious before they develop any symptoms of illness.
    That’s the reason for MASKS! Combining social distancing with masks can block the spread of respiratory droplets from a person with active, but perhaps unrecognized, infection.
    The cloth masks, while not as effective as surgical masks, can block droplet emissions, as well. (And the virus does not last long on cloth; viral counts drop 99% in three hours.)
  6. “Culture, is the fifth, and arguably the most difficult, pillar of a new combination therapy to stop the coronavirus….It’s about wanting, among other things, never to be the one to make someone else sick.” [It’s all about social responsibility – accepting that my actions can have serious (even lethal) consequences for other people.]

The first of the official guidelines in the US for re-opening is at least 2 weeks of very low to zero new cases! This is most difficult – waiting for the number of new cases in the community to drop to zero (or almost zero) and stay there.

I was explaining to someone the other day it’s kind of like the difference between setting off on a car trip to Chester vs a car trip to Vancouver! You’ve got a very different mind set when you start out to go to Chester – it takes an hour and the trip’s over before you know it. The mind set for a car trip to Vancouver (from Halifax) is a committed undertaking – you know it’s going to be a long, uncomfortable, inconvenient, sometimes boring, haul. 

Well, we’re all taking that car trip to Vancouver right now – we need to accept the expectation that our commitment to – frequent hand washing, self-monitoring, social distancing, wearing masks, and remembering each of us does this not just to keep ourselves safe, but to keep others safe – will have to go on for a LONG time. The better we are at following the full regimen the safer we all will be and the faster we can experience the world beyond our homes safely again.

[Click here for the original article by Atul Gawande] 

COVID-19 – Some Interesting Information

I’ve read a lot of news during this time of physical distancing (five weeks? six weeks? is it now). In the last week I’ve come across two pieces of information that could prove significant should, heaven forbid, I start showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The first is the “peanut butter sniff test” which I read about in the National Post (April 18 2020)

Peanut Butter Sniff Test

a simple do-it-at-home sniff test, using common household items, would allow participants — the great mass of us — to start tracking their sense of smell. In this way, an asymptomatic carrier who feels like a million bucks, but notes a diminishing sense of smell one day to the next, could consider quarantining, ASAP, instead of carrying on until their olfactory sense disappears altogether.

The second which I came across in the New York Times (April 20 2020) describes how the COVID-19 pneumonia is presenting differently than pneumonia from other viruses:

“patients are presenting with dangerously low oxygen levels and terrible pneumonia presenting on X-rays… Silent hypoxia progressing rapidly to respiratory failure explains cases of Covid-19 patients dying suddenly after not feeling short of breath.”

Pulse Oximeter

However, the doctor explains in this piece, “detecting silent hypoxia early through a common medical device that can be purchased without a prescription at most pharmacies: a pulse oximeter” would allow earlier detection of the pneumonia and therefore more immediate medical treatment.

My take away from these two articles is I can monitor myself in two ways. First, keep checking my sense of smell – loss of smell may occur even before other symptoms like fever, cough, upset stomach and fatigue appear. Should that happen, I need to quarantine myself (not just keep a physical distance) so I don’t pass on the virus.

Second, should I start showing symptoms I want to begin checking my blood oxygen saturation. This latter may be even more important than confirming the presence of the virus so a visit to the doctor may be warranted to make sure my oxygen saturation is checked. Since, as far as I know, oxygen saturation may not be checked except on hospital admission (which could be too late to escape a severe manifestation of COVID-19), that is something I will have to advocate vigorously for myself.

Just thought you might find these two tidbits worth stashing in the back of your mind. I’ll share anything else useful (and unusual) I may come across.