Doc Says Mask Reduces COVID By 65%. What’s Wrong With 100%?

Respirators are available that provide protection that approaches 100%. Why are we not being told?

In a Medscape article, Dean Blumberg, MD of UIC Davis is quoted as saying a “standard rectangular surgical mask … will decrease the risk of infection to the person wearing the mask by about 65% . . . .” and homemade masks also “should work quite well.” He added that the more effective masks should be reserved for medical professionals. In other words, people like him.

No pilot would take off in a plane that crashed 35% of the time or eject from a fighter if the parachute worked only 65% of the time. An approach that reduces the risk of getting a fatal disease by 65% is not what people in my profession would characterize as working “quite well.”

My next-door neighbor, a doctor at Yale, told me that Yale foresaw the N95 shortage and bought 1200 commercial respirators such as are used for spraypainting a car or removing asbestos. Commercial respirators, unlike N95s, are reusable. They can provide better protection that N95 by being fitted with filters that remove over 99.98% of particles in the air. Using these respirators, he says Yale has not had even one case of a staff member becoming infected with COVID at the hospital.

In the Medscape article, Dr. Blumberg says, “You’re being an irresponsible member of the community if you’re not wearing a mask.” I agree with that, but I see it as irresponsible that — unlike my next-door neighbor — most members of the medical community keep it quiet that commercial respirators available on Amazon, eBay, etc. offer protection that can approach 100%.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention Graphic

After learning what I could on the internet, I purchased a 3M 6000 series respirator. There are three sizes. 3M says medium fits 80% of the adult population.

3M 6000 Series Mask. Photo by Tom Bunn

The photo here shows the respirator as it arrived with no filters attached. This respirator uses two filters, one on either side. They snap on the circular black opening surrounded by the red washer. 3M 7500 series respirators are similar, the difference being the position of the exhalation valve. Other options are the 3M 5000 series, 6500 series, and commercial respirators from other manufacturers.

Filter Selection

Filters for commercial respirators are usually bought separately, depending on the environment the respirator is to be used in. The letter, N means not oil resistant. R means oil-resistant. P means oil-proof. The number 95 means the filter will remove 95% of 0.3 micron particles. The number 100 means the filter will remove 99.98% of 0.3 micron particles.

What Is A Micron?

A micron is 1/1000th of a millimeter. The 0.3 micron size is used for testing because it is the most difficult particle size to trap. Particles larger or smaller than 0.3 micron are easier to capture, which means the filter will block a higher percentage of any other size particle. N, R, or P 95 are considered adequate for COVID-19. But a N, R, or P100, if available, may ease anxiety.

3M Filter Selection Graphic at this link

How To Use A Respirator

There are videos on YouTube by 3M with details on how to use these respirators, which includes how to put them on, take them off, clean them, and check that they are properly sealed on your face. Don’t miss the video by Dr. Yagnesh Desai on how to put the respirator on, take it off, and clean it with COVID in mind.

How My Neighbor Protects Himself In The Supermarket

My next-door neighbor, the Yale physician, puts on full protective gear — respirator, surgical gown, and eye covering — even when he goes to the supermarket. Following his advice, I use my respirator, a throw-away raincoat, and glasses.

Anxiety May Still Persist

I know from working with my fear of flying clients that a person who is prone to anxiety will worry about becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus in spite of every effort at protection. There is no benefit to suffering from unnecessary anxiety. My book titled Panic Free, with step-by-step instructions to control anxiety, won an award in a major book-of-the-year contest in the self-help category. It is supplemented by a book that focuses on pandemic worries titled Panic Free Pandemic Workbook. You can read a lengthy sample of it at this link.

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Tom Bunn is a retired airline captain and licensed therapist. He is the originator of the SOAR Fear of Flying Program.

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Capt Tom Bunn

Capt Tom Bunn

Tom Bunn is a retired airline captain and licensed therapist. He is the originator of the SOAR Fear of Flying Program.

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