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How Masks Protect Us from Covid-19 – kottke.org

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How an N95 mask filters aerosols and droplets

The NY Times has a fantastic visualization on how face masks help keep us safe from catching Covid-19 by taking readers on a journey through a mask to see how they block aerosols and droplets.

A lot of the pushback around the efficacy of masks from non-scientists focuses on the size of the droplets and aerosols (super tiny) compared to the gaps between the fibers in the masks (relatively large). Intuitively, it seems like masks don’t stand a chance of stopping anything. But as this visualization shows, multiple layers of fibers do the job quite well. Masks don’t work like sieves, which will let every particle smaller than the holes through the mesh. Instead, imagine shooting a BB gun into a thick stand of trees — no one tree stands a good chance of getting hit by the BB but the forest will stop it eventually.

N95, KN95, and masks made from polypropylene have an extra weapon against particles: the fibers carry and electrostatic charge that attracts particles to trap them. Picture our BB flying through a forest of magnetic trees — it’s got a much better chance of being captured that way.

The visualization also touches on the importance of making sure your mask fits properly. The best masks fit tightly around the edges and include a space around your nose and nostrils. Masks with unfiltered valves should not be used — you’re just breathing virus out into the air. It’s been 8-9 months now that we’ve been dealing with the pandemic and there will be many more months of wearing masks. If your mask is fits poorly around your nose, your straps aren’t tight enough, you need to fuss with it after putting it on, have a mask with a valve, or (god forbid) are still just wearing a bandana, please please do yourself and others a favor and upgrade your mask. High-quality, well-made masks are much easier to find now than 6-8 months ago.1 If you can’t afford a proper mask, email me and I’ll buy you one. Masks are one of the most successful low-tech interventions we can do to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and the better our masks, the more effective they will be.

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    Manitoba's COVID-19 vaccine task force is waiting on Ottawa: provincial health minister – CBC.ca

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    Manitoba’s health minister says a team of public servants, minus the province’s top doctor, has been enlisted to get a COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of as many people as possible.

    But Cameron Friesen said the provincial task force is restrained by circumstances beyond their control.

    “There is only so much advanced planning that we can do until we are in need of the detail that only the federal government can provide,” Friesen told reporters Wednesday.

    As the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines is slated to arrive by early 2021, Manitoba insists its task force devoted to the coveted shot in the arm is doing everything possible, before then. 

    The province said the task force is preparing for the needs of each vaccine candidate, such as freezer capacity, by identifying the resources Manitoba already has and those it still requires.

    Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen said the province has a task force equipped to ensure a smooth rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

    The group is speaking with key stakeholders, participating on national vaccine committees and ensuring the province has the means of tracking new vaccines from inventory to uptake, the government said in an email. 

    The task force will also make decisions on vaccine priority groups, as well as the logistics of receiving, storing and distributing it.

    “This work involves significant risks, it involves significant contingency planning,” Friesen said.

    “But those things, we will be ready for. We need the federal government, though, to say what’s happening.”

    Friesen went on to cite the United States’ COVID-19 task force, named Operation Warp Speed, and implied that Canada’s effort might be lagging behind.

    “It seems that we have a slow-lane approach to vaccine, at least expressed thus far from the federal government,” Friesen said.

    Ottawa has deals in place to buy the vaccine and distribute them to provinces and territories, but Friesen said over the past week that Manitoba doesn’t know much in terms of vaccine, distribution and storage planning. 

    He said a phone call Tuesday involving his federal counterpart, Patty Hajdu, didn’t alleviate his concerns.

    Premier Brian Pallister told a national audience on CBC’s Rosemary Barton Live Sunday that Manitoba needs national criteria to ensure fairness in distributing a vaccine. He added that vulnerable people and health-care workers are expected to be first in line.

    WATCH | Manitoba’s premier says vaccine rollout should be equitable:

    Brian Pallister cautions against ‘piecemeal’ plans for access to COVID-19 vaccines and wants a standard in place across all provinces and territories. 1:28

    The province said in an email Wednesday that Manitoba has received an estimate on the number of available vaccine doses from the federal government, but would not reveal what that number is. 

    Other provinces, including Saskatchewan and Ontario, have revealed an estimated dosage.

    Manitoba’s task force will be comprised of staff from various government departments, including Health, Seniors and Active Living, Finance, and Central Services.

    Dr. Brent Roussin will not be at the table, Friesen confirmed.

    “Our chief provincial public health officer is very busy with his assigned duties, so therefore, we cannot task him also with this,” Friesen said, “but we have expertise here. We have taken a whole-of-government approach.”

    The NDP’s health critic said Roussin’s voice shouldn’t be missing from the table.

    “I was surprised to hear that Dr. Roussin wouldn’t be taking the lead in terms of what the vaccine’s going to look like once it reaches Manitoba and how that those decisions are going to be made,” Uzoma Asagwara said.

    They added that the province should focus less on blaming Ottawa and more on preparing.

    “We know it ends up with us being in a position to react instead of being proactive,” Asagwara said. 

    “Where they’ve made many mistakes during this pandemic,” Asagwara said of the government, “this is an opportunity to get it right.”

    Doctors Manitoba wants to be consulted

    Doctors Manitoba, which represents physicians in the province, has yet to be consulted by provincial officials on vaccine rollout. President Dr. Cory Baillie hopes that will change.

    “At this point, we’d like to ensure that physicians are involved in deciding who receives the vaccine first and ensure that physicians are involved in giving the vaccine,” he said.

    “We know that physicians have built up trust with their patients and we think building on that trust is going to be very important in order to ensure maximum uptake in the population of the coronavirus vaccine.”

    Friesen has previously said the vaccine distribution plan will be guided, in part, by the annual flu vaccination campaign, with some notable distinctions.

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    Anti-maskers need to reflect on the true meaning of 'injustice,' B.C. health officials say – CBC.ca

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    B.C.’s health minister is imploring belligerent anti-maskers to have some compassion and perspective when it comes to the true meaning of injustice.

    During Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing, Adrian Dix described wearing a mask in indoor public spaces, in compliance with B.C. law, is “a sign of respect for one another.”

    For those who claim their rights and freedoms have been unjustly curtailed by the mask mandate, Dix asked for consideration of staff and patients at Burnaby Hospital, who are dealing with a deadly outbreak and the aftermath of a fire at the same time.

    “That’s unjust. It’s unjust that all of the people have to go through this, but we do, together,” Dix said.

    “So when people use terms of injustice, they should be properly applied.”

    He also spoke of Wednesday’s record-high 13 deaths from the novel coronavirus, and how awful those losses are for  families and friends left behind.

    Dix said for the most part, he sees British Columbians pulling together to do their part during this second wave of the pandemic. Most people are respecting physical distancing measures, washing their hands, staying home when they’re sick and wearing masks, the health minister said.

    “Others need to reflect when they claim injustice here about wearing a mask … because there are people here who are genuinely suffering and working hard in extraordinary circumstances and we need to be with them,” Dix said.

    On Tuesday, the province announced $230 fines for anyone who does not comply with its mandatory mask order.

    The mandate requires workers and members of the public to wear face coverings in all retail environments, restaurants and indoor public spaces, including common areas of workplaces, except when eating or drinking.

    The B.C. government says anyone who is not wearing a mask, who does not leave a space when asked, or who responds with belligerent or abusive behaviour is subject to the fine.

    Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday that she “has no time” for people who are aggressive or rude about refusing to wear a mask, or those who spread conspiracy theories about COVID-19.

    “I have no time for people who believe that wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or is a sign of lack of freedom,” Henry said.

    “To me, it’s about a sign of respect for our fellow people who are suffering through this with us.”

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    Deadliest day of pandemic in B.C.: 13 COVID-19 deaths, 738 infections – News 1130

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    VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — B.C. recorded its deadliest day yet in the pandemic with 13 people losing their lives to COVID-19.

    Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also reported Wednesday another 738 people have been infected with the virus.

    The number of patients in hospital has broken another daily high with 294, with 61 in the ICU.

    No new outbreaks were reported for the first time in weeks, and the one at Royal Columbian Hospital is over.

    There are still 57 active outbreaks in health-care facilities.

    Henry again said the majority of new cases were from the Fraser Health region, but she also issued a data correction for that area spanning from Nov. 17 to 24. While some days the number was higher than initially reported, Tuesday’s provincial total of 941 was actually 706 following the updated data in Fraser Health.

    Rapid testing, vaccine on the horizon

    Henry noted a number of rapid tests have been received from the federal government, including Abbott’s ID NOW.

    “We have received 131 of the machines and 27,000 tests. However, as you can tell that would not be enough, for example, to do all of our health care workers in long-term care even once,” she said. “At this point, and we are working on how we can test deploy those machines to help us understand when outbreaks are happening when people need to be tested rapidly in the community.”

    Another 500,000 antigen tests have also been acquired, Henry said, adding all the tests still need to be done by a health-care professional and are limited.

    “So right now we’re limited in how we can use these, they are also only licensed for use in people who are symptomatic,” she said. “These tests are things that we can use to rapidly assess whether it’s COVID causing those symptoms or not.”

    While the province is working on how best to use the tests, such as testing symptomatic people in long-term care and on the Downtown Eastside, Henry said they aren’t that reliable. She also clarified these are not the same tests being used in film production or in the NHL.

    Henry said more tests will be arriving, and she hopes to see other types of rapid testing get approval for asymptomatic testing.

    She touched on positive vaccine news and announced Dr. Ross Brown, vice president for Vancouver Coastal Health’s pandemic response, will be leading B.C.’s vaccine program with Henry and the deputy minister.

    They’ll be in charge of getting the vaccine to British Columbians as soon as it’s available.

    “Hopefully, as early as January,” Henry said.

    It will take time for the province to get doses when they become available, so those most at risk will be prioritized to get vaccinated first, Henry said.

    Even so, she said the province doesn’t know how many vaccines it will receive, so there are still unknowns when it comes to distribution.

    In the meantime, she urged everyone to continue with COVID-19 health orders and reach out to loved ones virtually to check-in.

    “We need to look — each of us — at ourselves, and we need to look deep,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said. “We must force COVID-19 to loosen its grip. And that is a critical, critical aspect to what we’re doing.”

    Current COVID-19  health orders run out Dec. 7. Henry said by then, the province will know what needs to be done next.

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