An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT that, mask-wise, what the world really needs is a better mouse trap?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of energy and money has been put into inventing a vaccine, manufacturing more ventilators, and supplying us with all manner of foul-smelling hand sanitizers.
Meanwhile, the humble mask — without question one of our greatest weapons against the spread of COVID-19 — remains under-appreciated. Other than some debate about the best material to use, and how many layers are needed, the mask remains pretty much unchanged.
At best, as we know, the current technology of masks helps us prevent the spread from us to others but not from others to us.
So what if there was a mask that was so good it could stop us from breathing in the particles sent our way from those next to us?
What if a mask was available that fits well, is fashion-conscious, comfortable, doesn’t fog our glasses, is washable, costs under $10 and incorporates N95 capability? One that doesn’t take a PhD to figure out how to wear it properly?
N95 masks are the ones worn by healthcare providers and by trades people to protect them against minute particles produced on worksites. They’re more effective than surgical masks and are designed to filter out 95 per cent of small particles. They aren’t generally re-usable.
Certainly, research is being done, and some labs claim to have come up with masks that actually kill the virus on contact.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “we could potentially achieve control and confidence now if better masks were available for the general public that are more protective than the cloth ones worn now and closer in calibre to the N95.”
So where are these masks? And why does the general public not have access to them?
When we get answers to those questions, we’ll be a lot closer to getting this virus under control.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.