Surgical Masks: From Protection to Fashion?

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

This is going to be a pretty random post, and I’m not even going to add a potted history of masks (not even in Asia). I’m going to start out with my own simple experience of mask-wearing, and then give a random selection from the incredible ferment of mask-making by many small artisans and manufacturers all over the world. (Note that “small artisan” goes all the petites mains of the House of Chanel.) Massive uptake of mask-wearing would have significant health benefits, and shaming doesn’t seem to be working real well. Maybe if we start thinking of masks as fashion items, uptake will improve.

To begin, my starting point is the surgical mask, like this:

Cloth, with loops on either side to fasten round the ears, creating a loose seal. (I am not talking about N95 masks[1] or respirators, because they are products built to industrial standards that small artisans cannot meet.) The first surgical mask, of ordinary cloth, was invented and worn by Paul Berger, a French surgeon, in 1897. By 1913-1919 their use in the operating theatre was general. Today, the cloth was been replaced by non-woven microfiber, petroleum-based (naturally) and produced (naturally) in large textile mills by machine[2]. The best comes from (naturally) a single source in (naturally) Germany.

Because I’m not a player of American roulette — where you point the gun at somebody else’s skull (while mentally congratulating yourself on your own rugged individualism) — I wear a surgical mask (as pictured above) outdoors, and will do so for the duration of the #COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the surgical mask[3] — being disposable — is not designed for comfort, or aesthetic pleasure, or self-expression, or any of the other reasons one might choose to wear an article of clothing. The problems I have:

1) The mask is a duty to wear, not a pleasure to wear. I am not a fashion plate, being an old WASP codger. That said, I do choose my clothes to, well, reinforce my (perceived) class position, but the mask — as something that is not really trying very hard to be an article of clothing — does not allow me to do that.

2) The mask is disposable. Well, not, of course, because I wash mine and hang them out in the sun for several days. That said, throwaway culture is unattractive and wrong. I hate to think that filling up landfills is a requirement to keep others (and myself) safe.

3) The mask loops irritate my ears. Not badly, but I do feel a twinge, and since I have to wear glasses in order to see, I worry about the twinge becoming permanent.

4) The mask requires fiddling.. Everybody says, “Don’t touch the mask!” — because either it has the virus on it, or will after you touch it — but that’s not possible for me. I wear glasses, my glasses are constantly slipping down my nose, and to prevent the mask and my glasses from interfering with each other, I need to adjust the mask. I also need to shape the mask around my nose.

5) The mask is unpleasant to breath through. The mask does not deprive me of oxygen, but the sensation of blowing the mask away from my mouth, and then inhalling the mask back toward my mouth, is unpleasant. It’s like having a paper napkin held over my mouth at all times. It may be that cloth would be more pleasant than non-woven fabric.

6) The mask steams up my glasses. When it’s hot enough outside, my breath gets steamy — possibly by being held behind the mask — and then my glasses fog up.

With that, I will present a large number of tweets about masks from small artisans. I can’t find anything about how to prevent my glasses from fogging up, but I can find material on making masks a pleasure to wear, eliminating fiddling, and fixing mask loop problems. When I’m done with that survey, I’ll venture into more exotic forms of masquing.

Making Masks a Pleasure to Wear

I have been long fashion-forward masks for some time; this caught my eye back in March:

Of course, this mask is practical only if you have servants to clean the jewels, but fashion shows are not about practicality. The essential point is to bring the mask into the world of fashion (much as Nike did with what we once called “sneakers”).

Of course, most masks are not bejewelled; instead, makers mostly vary the fabric. For example, this mask might find some uptake in, well, Michigan:

Here are more pretty masks with various fabrics:

Here is an example of self-expression through fabric supplied by the customer:

Here is a pretty mask with a restaurant use case (but see Appendix One):

Making Masks Reusable

This is, I think, a matter of the fabric used (which in my view would also need to be decorated as normal fabric (see above), as witih silk-screening, applique, etc. The Independent:

New technology is also likely to revolutionise the use of face masks. At present most masks are not designed to be reusable – but a new process, initially developed at Bar Ilan University in Israel, is set to change that. Pioneered by a Tel Aviv-based company, Sonovia, the new process uses very high frequency sound waves to impregnate textiles with virucidal (but safe for humans) zinc oxide and copper oxide nano-particles. The new potentially virus-killing masks will be reusable – and capable of being washed and re-used around 90 times.

90 times is certainly better than one. However, it does seem to me that a mask business model could be constructed along the razor and blade business model, where the “breath-through” section — which could be medical grade — was replaceable.

Here is a second example of a reusable mask. From WRAL in Raleigh, NC:

[Raleigh teenage brothers Dylan and Connor Clark] said they saw a need in the market for facial coverings that were comfortable and reusable.

“It’s been really fun for me and my brother to just stay up late at night to do something to help the community,” said Dylan.

CopperSAFE masks are infused with copper, a naturally occurring antimicrobial, self sanitizing element, which one study suggests is better than common materials at preventing the spread of infectious diseases.

At $15 a pop, they are also completely washable, available in youth sizes and can be customized.

The masks are currently being manufactured at a cut and sew facility near Asheville, but the brothers said they are exploring partnerships in Garner and Greensboro.

NIce to see that there’s some textile manufacturing capacity left in the United States. Note the self-expression possible…. through corporate branding:

Flare!

Here is a third example of a reusable mask, also with copper. From Associated Press:

Facing the growing pandemic, CoureTex is producing reusable face masks embedded with fine threads of copper. The incorporation of copper into the mask’s fabric acts as a barrier to the transmission of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. This family-owned and operated company, which obtained an invention patent in 2018, says it is the only business in the world to manufacture this type of product. Its antibacterial and antimicrobial fabric – assured by British certification company Intertek and Brazil’s Senai – has also been used against the H1N1 virus. One of the mask’s distinguishing characteristics is that, unlike paper masks, it can be washed more than 50 times, which, according to its creators, means that it lasts up to one year.

And here is an example of a botched rollout of copper masks, in Hong Kong. South China Morning Post:

The masks were patented and developed by the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), a government-funded non-profit organisation.

They incorporate copper as a key filtering component and its name, CuMask+, is derived from the chemical symbol for copper.

More than 2.5 million Hongkongers, as of Friday, have registered to receive a free washable mask, which was manufactured by Crystal International Group, the Hong Kong-listed company awarded the contract without facing competition.

The CuMask+ was greeted with derision by some Hong Kongers:

More derision:

A salutary lesson!

Making Masks That Don’t Irritate the Ears

My ears are not this bad (caution: Surgical textbook-style colored plate material ahead):

So here are some solutions for ears. The 3D printing community has been printing “ear savers”:

Here is a solution for loops that are fabric, not elastic:

This one bypasses the ears entirely:

The difficulty with all the above, is that you have to have carry the mask and some other item (like an iPhone with dongles). Here is a design that doesn’t loop around the ears at all:

Clearly, this mask would not irritate the ears at all. Morever, it solves the issue of fiddling, becase the front of the mask is metallic, so you could clean it with alchohol (unlike fabric). But I can’t tell what prevents it from sliding down round the neck. Readers?

Making Exotic Masks

I didn’t add this to my list of requirements:

Kill it with fire:

Doggos and puppers:

Onre more for Michigan:

And of course, this famous one:

Conclusion

“Now, it’s complete because it’s ended here,” as the Fremen say. Readers, what is your mask experience? What do you think your mask experience should be? Oh, and I forgot the basic premise of the post: that #COVID-19 is not not the first pandemic, and will not be the last. The next one could be really bad. So, culturally, we had better get masked up.

NOTES

[1] The precursor to the N95 mask was invented by a Malaysian doctor named Lien-teh Wu during a pneumonic, zoonotic pandemic (!) in Manchuria and Mongolia, which he determinted to be airborne via autopsy, then not accepted in China.

[2] I fantasize of the cloth portion made from banana leaves or bamboo, like Ghandi spinning cotton by hand, for example.

[3] When I say “surgical mask,” I’m referring to the construcion, cloth and loops, not to the grade. From The Fashion Law:

It is well understood that “masks must be made with strict [often legally-governed] standards and patterns in mind,” Emily Brayshaw, a professor at the University of Technology in Sydney, asserts, while also observing various labeling guidelines. (The existence of such strict federal regulations when it comes to masks is almost certainly why “designers who are making masks have begun to emphasize that they are ‘non-surgical,'” per GQ). Such standards – which include the use of specific medical-grade textiles and coating technologies that aid in filtration (to ensure that the masks do, in fact, serve to block minuscule airborne particles), and manufacture and storage of the masks in an environment that meets the legally-defined “quality system requirements” – can be difficult to meet. As many of the designers that have set out to make masks and other PPE told GQ, they “now find themselves facing manufacturing quandaries, with some stalled by unclear guidelines and a lack of access to medical-grade fabrics.”

Even if the majority of fashion-made masks are not the same as traditionally utilized by medical professionals, given the overwhelming shortage of masks, the FDA recently revealed that it will observe some slightly more lax rules when it comes to masks. As indicated in a March 2020 release, the government entity stated that during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, it will “not object to the marketing and distribution of” certain face masks without the usually-required prior-clearance, a move that stands to enable brands that want to help to do so without having to get too far into the weeds from a legal perspective.

Cloth masks are better than no masks. This is not a post about medical-grade surgical masks. However, I don’t see a reason why “medical-grade textiles and coating technologies” cannot be made available in a less vertically integrated system than we have now. “Odd lots,” we called then, back in the day.

APPENDIX: Jack Vance, The Moon Moth

From the opening scene of this great short story. Edwer Thissell arrives on the planet Sirene in the city of Fan to take up his ambassadorship, and is greeted at the spaceport by the local agent, Esteban Rolver:

Masks are worn at all times, in accordance with the philosophy that a man should not be compelled to use a similitude foisted upon him by factors beyond his control; that he should be at liberty to choose that semblance most consonant with his strakh. In the civilized areas of Sirene — which is to say the Titanic littoral — a man literally never shows his face; it is his basic secret. Gambling, by this token, is unknown on Sirene; it would be catastrophic to Sirenese self-respect to gain advantage by means other than the exercise of strakh. The word “luck” has no counterpart in the Sirenese language. Thissell made another note: Get mask. Museum? Drama guild? He finished the article, hastened forth to complete his preparations, and the next day embarked….

Strakh seems a lot like Leguin’s shifgrethor on the planet Winter, or, well, “face” in some Asian cultures.

The lighter grounded and Edwer Thissell stepped forth. He was met by Esteban Rolver, the local agent for Spaceways. Rolver threw up his hands, stepped back. “Your mask,” he cried huskily. “Where is your mask?” Thissell held it up rather self-consciously. “I wasn’t sure—” “Put it on,” said Rolver, turning away. He himself wore a fabrication of dull green scales, blue-lacquered wood. Black quills protruded at the cheeks, and under his chin hung a black-and-white-checked pompom, the total effect creating a sense of sardonic supple personality. Thissell adjusted the mask to his face, undecided whether to make a joke about the situation or to maintain a reserve suitable to the dignity of his post. “Are you masked?” Rolver inquired over his shoulder. Thissell replied in the affirmative and Rolver turned. … “You can’t wear that mask!” sang Rolver. “In fact—how, where, did you get it?” “It’s copied from a mask owned by the Polypolis museum,” Thissell declared stiffly. “I’m sure it’s authentic.” Rolver nodded, his own mask seeming more sardonic than ever. “Its authentic enough. It’s a variant of the type known as the Sea Dragon Conqueror, and is worn on ceremonial occasions by persons of enormous prestige: princes, heroes, master craftsmen, great musicians.” “I wasn’t aware—” Rolver made a gesture of languid understanding. “It’s something you’ll learn in due course. Notice my mask. To-day I’m wearing a Tarn Bird. Persons of minimal prestige— such as you, I, any other out-worlder— wear this sort of thing.” “Odd,” said Thissell, as they started across the field to-ward a low concrete blockhouse. “I assumed that a person wore whatever he liked.” “Certainly,” said Rolver. “Wear any mask you like—if you can make it stick. This Tarn Bird for instance. I wear it to indicate that I presume nothing. I make no claims to wisdom, ferocity, versatility, musicianship, truculence, or any of a dozen other Sirenese virtues.” “For the sake of argument,” said Thissell, “what would happen if I walked through the streets of Zundar in this mask?” Rolver laughed, a muffled sound behind his mask. “If you walked along the docks of Zundar—there are no streets— in any mask, you’d be killed within the hour. That’s what happened to Benko, your predecessor. He didn’t know how to act. None of us out-worlders know how to act. In Fan we’re tolerated—so long as we keep our place. But you couldn’t even walk around Fan in that regalia you’re sporting now. Somebody wearing a Fire Snake or a Thunder Goblin—masks, you understand—would step up to you…. [H]e might ring his dueling-gong and attack you then and there.” “I had no idea that people here were quite so irascible,” said Thissell in a subdued voice. Rolver shrugged and swung open the massive steel door into his office. “Certain acts may not be committed on the Concourse at Polypolis without incurring criticism.” [Rolver] went to a closet, brought forth a mask. “Here. Use this Moon Moth; it won’t get you in trouble.” Thissell unenthusiastically inspected the mask. It was constructed of mouse-colored fur; there was a tuft of hair at each side of the mouth-hole, a pair of featherlike antennae at the forehead. White lace flaps dangled beside the temples and under the eyes hung a series of red folds, creating an effect at once lugubrious and comic. Thissell asked, “Does this mask signify any degree of prestige?” “Not a great deal.” “After all, I’m Consular Representative,” said Thissell. “I represent the Home Planets, a hundred billion people—”

If the Home Planets want their representative to wear a Sea Dragon Conqueror mask, they’d better send out a Sea Dragon Conqueror type of man.” “I see,” said Thissell in a subdued voice. “Well, if I must . . .” Rolver politely averted his gaze while Thissell doffed the Sea Dragon Conqueror and slipped the more modest Moon Moth over his head.

Sorry to quote at such length, but it’s such a wonderful story! And we might meditate on what a much more masked culture would look like.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

52 comments

  1. marcel

    Two quick comments:
    a. if you get fog on your glasses, the mask is not well adjusted on your cheeks (I don’t know whether you have a beard, but masks are not beard-compatible).
    b. instead of wearing out one’s ears with the elastic bands of the masks, some people tie the two bands together with a paper clip on the back of the head. Can’t say how that feels after many hours of wearing.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      I have no idea what you are talking about. Any position of a disposable surgical mask that covers my nostrils which is a functional requirement, will fog my glasses at most temperature/humidity conditions.

      Reply
        1. Grebo

          Rub a drop of dish soap on them and wipe it off with a paper towel. No need to wash, it will clear itself as it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere.

          Reply
      1. Angie Neer

        Do you have a reference for that? Aren’t nylon stockings, at least typical sheer ones, much more porous than most fabrics? I would expect that material to give very little protection.

        Reply
    2. Antagonist Muscles

      Lambert is quite right about the surgical mask holding his hot breath back and then venturing upwards to fog up his glasses. One can solve this problem by either changing the mask or the glasses.

      I wear a respirator, where my exhalation is forced downwards. Surgical masks are not designed to force exhaled air in any particular direction. Respirators are unfortunately in short supply.

      I also wear Wiley X sunglasses with a foam gasket snug against my face. The foam gasket prevents some of my hot exhaled air from getting to my lenses. Perhaps the foam seal also prevents viruses from getting to my eyes, but I doubt anybody studied the efficacy of sunglasses blocking out pathogens to the eyes.

      My endorsement of Wiley X glasses assumes you like the wraparound frame style. If you do, you can get your optometrist or optician to put your prescription into clear untinted lenses.

      Alternatively, one can forgo the glasses entirely. Ski goggles are designed to be more resistant to fog because snow sports often require a mask or neck warmer. The goggles lenses are also situated farther away from the eyes, which makes exhaled air condensing on the interior lenses slightly less likely.

      My own tests with surgical masks in combination with ski/snowboard goggles are promising. That combination is definitely less fog prone than surgical masks with spectacles. Pathogens may also have more difficulty infecting the eyes. And if you wear goggles with a mask, you will look sufficiently crazy that your social distancing personal space will automatically increase.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I require progressive trifocals, but no doubt I could use the frames. I don’t know if I could wear the Black Ops style and be me, however. From the Appendix: “If the Home Planets want their representative to wear a Sea Dragon Conqueror mask, they’d better send out a Sea Dragon Conqueror type of man.”

        Reply
  2. jo6pac

    I was lucky in the mask world after SARS they were on sale at amazon so I bought a case to use in the yard. I still have a half a case left and I wear one 3 or more times. They don’t bother me and I wear them when in the store like today. If get a few extra dollars I might buy one of these.

    https://www.etsy.com/listing/795266441/guy-fawkes-neck-gaiter-breathable-mask

    Oh well back to putting food away.

    It looks like I received my check from the govt. and I fine out tomorrow when I visit the PO.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Yep. I have half a small cases’ worth of painter style N95 masks I got for a home project five years ago. What bothers me about the cloth masks, and I have seen lots of New Orleans Saints “branded” ones around our half horse town, is how loosely the people wear them. Also, the younger people in general are the ones doing the ‘half mask’ style of wearing; the nose not being covered up.
      Halloween should be very interesting this year.

      Reply
  3. FDW

    Wow, I’d never thought I’d see Shimoneta on Naked Capitalism. Such a good Anime, with an excellent story, that I think would many here would appreciate, but it’s NOT SAFE FOR WORK.

    Reply
  4. sd

    Just want to put in a word for flip up face shields as an option or addition, reusable, easy to clean, etc.

    Reply
  5. Oso

    lot of local artists/activists here in oakland selling masks, word of mouth and social media gets the young people’s buyin to mask up.

    Reply
  6. JM

    I also had the problem with my glasses fogging up when wearing a mask. Accidentally find out that if I have the upper edge of the mask over the bottom of my glasses the hot air blows up between my eyes and glasses and I did not have fogging issues.

    Reply
  7. Synoia

    Masks are essential for bending the curve to manage Hospital Bed use.
    However, they interfere with the objective to reach to reach 80% herd immunity.

    They might protect you until there is a vaccine. That’s probably some where between 9 month and never.

    Reply
    1. fajensen

      However, they interfere with the objective to reach to reach 80% herd immunity.

      Not MY objective, and likewise “The Economy” is “Their Economy” which is not aligned with MY Economy. All these specialists talking their taskmasters book can go and do something unnatural (and graphic) with themselves!

      I think that, given the unknowns, ‘heard immunity” is some straight-up, crazy-man bullshit that will get lots of people killed and maimed for “the common good” – a.k.a. “Their Economy”! The only good way I see, is to keep it down for long enough to let the gene-splicers find remedies, possibly cures, or even vaccines.

      The Asians seems to be able to do this task. I.M.O, whats blocking “us” is only that we don’t wanna be like Asians even if sticking with our principles will kill us and “Our Economy” (Theirs and Mine). Such rubbish!

      I probably had the virus in a milder form already and probably several times too (my wife works in a kindergarten, kids there are lapping everything there is to lap, up and spreading it).

      In my personal experience, this is absolutely not “The Flu”. This virus will try to come back from a new angle every time one thinks that “Now, Finally one is Healthy and I can go for a run again”. Nope. The same week there is again the stuffed nose, feeling of breathing fine dust, small chest pains, bigger pains that feels as they are located inside the bones (never had that before) and feelings like ones guts is being poked with needles.

      Two full months this sh*t has lasted and I know that I am super lucky it is not worse.

      On the lighter side, my daughter, recovered from Covid-19 without the ability to speak loudly, today looks somewhat like a leopard with two rows of dark spots along both front sides of her tummy. Her doctors are baffled but also very interested, she is being followed closely with a new set of tests every week. Maybe they think there is a paper in it?

      Anyway, In my opinion, Covid-19 is absolutely not something one would trust to just rip through the population, pick off the weaklings, and graciously grant immunity to those pure and strong, who survived.

      Yet, this is “the only plan” our Brainiac Masters could come up with! Shows their measure, I’d say!

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Funny you say that. Our super local neighborhood had a mini epidemic of a flu like malady back in December and January last. We, along with at least three families on this city block had the ‘grippe du mal.’ Now I am suddenly having pretty painful arthritis pains in my left hip and knee. No otherwise obvious source for this bodily ill. (Unless plain old getting old is this problematic. The Who were right in their song, “My Generation.”)
        I think that the range of symptoms this Dreaded Pathogen will engender is going to surprise us. Thinking of the ‘cytokine storm’ phenomenon, I can well imagine other immune system related maladies, like forms of arthritis, as secondary symptoms of this scourge.

        Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > herd immunity

      Until proven to exist for #COVID19, a chimera, as it is for the common cold, which is why they call it common. Worse, a happy talk chimera. I am amazed that people take it seriously; perhaps they do because it was presents a spurious air of chin-stroking credibility, like kompromat.

      Reply
    1. Barbara

      That is one of the two designs I have used to make masks for my family. Here’s a link for pattern and instructions.
      Benefits of this mask: yes, it does skirt eyeglasses. It’s comfortable to wear. There’s a version where the lining acts as a pocket for additional one-time use filter( coffee filter, paper towel) – I don’t really know how beneficial this is.
      The second mask I make is the simple folded mask like the one shown up at the top, but made of fabric and lining which forms four layers when finished. The outer layer is made of cotton prints generally used in quilting, the lining layer made of very dense cotton sheeting (only the sewing machine needles gets through easily; hand-sewing brought finger cramps). I followed a tip I read, and in the center where the nose and the chin are I put a dart 1″ wide and 1″ long (works out to a 1/2″ dart 1″ long when sewn). This provides an indentation to cover the nose and chin more closely. When we tried them on, however, it did interfere with glasses, so I’m refining the pattern to correct that.

      However, the mask that does interfere with glasses, works beautifully over the KN95 mask that I use when I go to places where I might find myself vulnerable. My retinologist’s office in better times had two waiting rooms stuffed to the gills with vulnerable old people, like me. Due to the corona virus conditions, they closed for a month to reconfigure their office and scheduling to limit contact between patients so that they could continue treatments that we need not to lose our vision.

      Now I’m going to take apart some of the support knee highs I have and add that to our masks.

      And, yes, when it comes to keeping on living, I am definitely a belt and suspenders type of person, although I like to think of myself as a “do not go gentle into that good night” type of person.

      Reply
  8. Diuretical

    I’m a big fan of the ear savers, having pulled time on various COVID wards. I usually find it works better if I wear it on top of my head though (as opposed to at the back, as seen in the picture.) tethering at the top also prevents the mask from slipping forward over my nose.

    Reply
  9. marieann

    I have been making masks for my family and friends. The ones I make for my husband don’t go around the ears, one piece of elastic goes around the back of the neck and head. He likes this style better but it takes twice the amount of elastic, and that is a commodity that is hard to find now…..sorta like toilet paper.
    I was in luck as I had a connection to someone in the mask business and we done a deal :)

    Reply
  10. anon in so cal

    Re: glasses falling off if one bends forward (I have lost many pairs of sunglasses this way): there are apparently “ear hooks” that fit onto the arms of the glasses:

    https://www.wikihow.com/Keep-Glasses-from-Slipping

    Good to wear some kind of eye protection. This article repeats what I had previously read and aligns with photos of health care workers wearing goggles:

    “Coronavirus CAN enter the body through the eyes: Scientists find eye cells are a prime target for the deadly virus to attach to”

    “….Paul Kellam, professor of virus genomics at Imperial College London, told MailOnline at the time it was ‘absolutely possible’.
    ‘If you have droplets sneezed at you, they will wash from your eye to your nose,’ he told MailOnline. ‘Your eye connects to your nose through the lacrimal duct. ‘If you suffer from allergies and if your eyes run, so will your nose. Or if you put medication in your eyes, you’ll taste at the back of your throat. ‘It isn’t unusual for flu and other viruses to be transmitted this way. You can also get respiratory infections through the eye.’ ”

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8304781/Coronavirus-enter-body-eyes.html

    Reply
    1. dk

      In this context, mild bilateral conjunctivitis is a common symptom of many kinds of viral infection. Although not necessarily specific to covid-19, some association has been noted.

      Characteristics of Ocular Findings of Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Hubei Province, China : March 31, 2020
      https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/fullarticle/2764083

      Fact check: Early studies show pink eye could be related to COVID-19 but in few cases : April 9, 2020
      https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/04/09/fact-check-pink-eye-new-coronavirus-symptom/2940369001/

      Granular deposits of dried discharge can collect at the corners of the eyes, often most noticeable after waking from sleep. These granules may be heavily laden with pathogens and should be disposed of carefully with tissues, or if removed a towel then the towel should be sanitized before further use.

      Reply
  11. JBird4049

    Those mask that strap on around the ears seem to fit better, but since I have eyeglasses, over-the-ear hearing aids, and prefer ear hooks for my aid compatible “earbuds” it’s getting crowded.

    On mask fashions, fashions are a fascinating subject for historians, sociologists, and anthropologists. Does not matter whether it is hunter-gatherers and their often limited clothing or the Victorian upper classes obsession, even fanaticism on proper attire there is fashion and trendiness. I think, no, I know that we will be using masks as class markers soon.

    Reply
  12. Jeremy Grimm

    I hope that mask wearing becomes customary and typical. I also hope mask wearing will throw a wrench into face recognition.

    Reply
    1. Oh

      I agree with you. It might even be better if the masks are bigger to show only the eyes (which you can cover with sun glasses). With most of my face and eyes covered I can now self check out at Target and give their camera a middle finger.

      I understand that Chase is voice printing you if you call them about your account. Woh! What great technological leaps we have!

      Reply
  13. The Historian

    I loved all the masks, but sigh, I will wear the blue hospital ones because I’m not in the least bit creative. I would have loved to see some current iterations of those bird beak masks like they wore for the Black Plague though. One of those I just might be convinced to wear!

    Reply
    1. pricklyone

      @Historian, where do you get them? Only sources I see are China, and not actually surgical masks.
      Everyone is now wearing and recommending masks. All quiet on the “where to get it” front, though.
      No real masks seem to be available to the public.
      Phony China masks are of course available with a 2 month leadtime from aliexpress, etc.

      Reply
      1. The Historian

        We ordered them early when we saw what was happening in China so we were set before the pandemic hit here. My son sent me the first batch in late January.

        Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    Great article this. I saw this film clip the other day taken by a supermarket worker where this woman had cut a small hole over the mouth of her mask. When asked by the guy, she said that it was because she couldn’t breath properly and needed the hole to breath properly. And the film clip looked legit. Swear to god that it reminded me of the old joke about the guy who cut the end off the condoms he used to make them a better fit.

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      Yeah, I see a lot of people who are obviously unclear on the concept. A masked lady who waited patiently in line at the recommended 6′ outside the store, goes the wrong way down the aisle and when I shrink back against the shelves as she passes, pointing at the arrow on the floor, gives me with a dismissive little laugh. One guy at another store actually brushed against me on his way after packing his order. No mask on that guy. People who stand and gaze at the shelf for loooooong minutes before moving on. Shops have set up impossible traffic flows and have marked “stand here to check out” spots right at the ends of aisles where people must walk to enter the store. I have to pick up a few things today, and I am dreading it.

      Reply
    2. Steven A

      Recently I had to visit my urologist. During the consultation we sat a little more the recommended two arm lengths apart, both of us wearing N95 masks (my daughter scored a couple for me). He kept his mask low on his face, exposing his nose during the whole appointment. That was more than two weeks ago and I did not exhibit any symptoms, but I didn’t make a follow-up appointment, opting for another urologist closer to my home.

      Reply
  15. CanCyn

    “I wear glasses, my glasses are constantly slipping down my nose,”
    —————————————————————-
    If your glasses are constantly slipping down your nose, they are not fitted properly or perhaps they are simply the wrong size/shape. I never adjust my glasses once I put them on in the morning. Difficult to have them adjusted right now, I know, but do see an optician when it is possible, they should be able to fit them so that they don’t slip.
    I do however have trouble with my glasses fogging up when I wear a mask. Even with a wire nose fitting. In an NC thread in the last couple of weeks someone recommended anti-fog spray. I have been trying not to do much online shopping but I may cave and order some. My little grocery store doesn’t carry that kind of stuff, opticians aren’t open and I have been doing my best to stay out of drug stores.
    Last, I have been making masks and have made both the more traditional pleated and some of the more fitted style with the seam in the middle. I haven’t figured out a better way than around the ears for fit. I find any ties around the back of my head just slip down my hair. I can’t imagine how that funky metal one stays up!

    Reply
      1. CanCyn

        To Witters at 5:17 am. I repeat what I said about glasses slipping … if they feel tight, rub or are generally uncomfortable …either the frame doesn’t fit you or it is not fitted properly. Sometime after I get new glasses I have to go back to have them adjusted again, but in the end, I have glasses that are comfortable and don’t slip down my nose.

        Reply
  16. Hot Dog McKoy

    Solution for Fogging glasses?
    They sell anti fogger its mainly intended for snorkling masks. But I don’t see why it would not work just the same for the fogging eye glasses issue.
    My favorite brand is called Cat Crap “lens cleaner and anti fog”. You heard it here folks.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      That’s an interesting name for a product, but I might give it a try as my lenses keep fogging up.

      Reply
  17. Aligot

    Thank you for this article! After reading and absorbing, I looked to see if copper fabric masks were available closer than Chile, found a site here in France (https://vetementscuivre.com) importing masks made in the UK. Expensive, but reutilisable and washable à l’infini, so probably cheap in the end.

    Reply
  18. HotFlash

    Re glasses slipping (Lambert) or sunglasses falling off (anon in so cal) — people, you need Croakies(tm)! Designed by and for outdoor sports enthusiasts after many pairs of their sunglasses went to Davy Jones locker or down the mountainside. I have been wearing them on my glasses for nearly 4 decades. They make fancy ones, I just use the plain vanilla “Original” model, usually in black (‘goes with everything’) but since I wear it under my hair it really doesn’t matter. Under $10 and last for years before the neoprene dies.

    Reply
  19. dk

    One of the things I’ve noticed about wearing a mask is the difficulty of facial expression. I look pretty grim without a smile, and find that I have to gesture and cock my head when nodding so as not to appear curt. I seems that, at least with my voice, simple phrases like “thank you” and “please” can be taken as sarcastic or sardonic without a smile to accompany them. My voice was already low and indistinct, the mask doesn’t help. Do it’s a lot more hand gestures, holding up fingers for quantities, etc.

    Reply
  20. Rod

    couple of things that have worked for me and masks over the last 40 years of Construction Work:

    Film your glasses to prevent fogging–I use Dawn original wiped undiluted onto the lenses and rinse(but not wipe) with hot water first then cold until stops foaming–shake off and dap dry with napkin–it forms a transparent film. A buddy swears by Rainex on his sunglasses but the Dawn works well for me so no need to experiment.

    For a tighter fit using a two strapper–usually N-95– (upper strap and lower strap–not a loop on each end) and avoiding the ears–Loop the upper strap below your ears around your neck and the upper strap above your ears across the crown of your head–so the rubber or elastic crisscrosses–which is how I believe the original N-95s from the late 70s early 80s as manufacturers instructed you to secure them. This simultaneously pulls the nose tight and the chin tight by opposing forces of the elastic providing a tighter fit.

    Reply

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