‘Science Says’ Sunday – To mask or not to mask?


There is so much talk about ‘re-opening states’, despite not quite being in a place where we can do that. For scientists and health care workers, talk it’s immensely worrisome. The need to get people back to work is very real, but if we’re going to move forward with easing social distancing restrictions, especially “lockdowns” or “stay-at-home orders” then, a few things need to be in place:

  • Continued decrease in cases over time (flattening of the curve)
  • A capacity to treat all patients who need hospitalization with all resources needed (eg, protective equipment, beds, ventilators)
  • Comprehensive testing (everyone with symptoms or at risk gets tested)
  • Antibody testing, combined with contact tracing and isolation of those with COVID-19

Currently, we don’t have any of the above in place, which means scaling back social distancing measures and re-opening places where groups of people can gather or be in close proximity – hello, beaches, movie theaters, restaurants, daycares, etc – is extremely worrisome.

However, despite the concern that scientists, physicians, and many others have expressed, it appears that some states are eager to move forward with plans to re-open. As such, I felt the need to discuss masking in today’s ‘Science Says’ Sunday post. And I’m not talking about avocado or charcoal masks (though that’s an excellent topic for another day), I’m talking about face masks.

So, in short, YES, if you’re going to leave your house, you should absolutely mask.

The Centers for Disease Control have an excellent video out about the Do’s and Don’ts of cloth face coverings or masks:


My immediate family has not been able to secure masks, so I decided to try and make our own! According to some guides, a simple bandana or other cloth covering will do, but I decided to give a neck scarf a go!

Note: Don’t touch the outside of the mask to adjust like I did. Try and avoid that, oops!

Using masks regularly, though, requires some guidance about safety and careful hygiene. This gif describes things you should keep in mind when wearing masks to go to work, grocery shopping, or to engage in other essential activities:



There is a lot that we are still learning about COVID-19 and so much that we have to do to get this under control. To those who have social distanced for weeks, thank you. To those who are essential workers and continue to have to go to work, ALSO thank you!! Remember to continue to support your local businesses if you are able, and to only leave your home for essential activities. In general, essential services include:

  • Gas stations
  • Pharmacies
  • Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants
  • Banks
  • Laundromats/laundry services
  • Essential state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.

Remember, we continue to social distance because we have no idea who will and will not get sick. Because we believe there is a pre-symptomatic and/or asymptomatic phase, it is possible that you can get people sick without getting sick or super sick yourself. I thought this gif was worth re-sharing to demonstrate exactly how this works:



I know it’s hard. There is no doubt that this is significant, life altering phase of life we are all experiencing. Know, however, that until we have a vaccine, treatment for COVID-19, tests for everyone, and antibody tests, we will continue to need some form of social distancing to remain. Remember that this is truly unprecedented and unlike anything we have seen in modern history. You are writing history as we speak. Let’s learn from past experiences like reopening too soon and the effects of large gatherings during the 1918 flu pandemic. Let’s do the right thing, and get through this together.

Be well, and be safe, friends.

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