I am not a doctor, but I play one in the newspaper. So, with that caveat may I relay to you three items in the news this week. They seem relevant to me, as we all try to figure out life during COVID-19.
First, new research reveals cloth masks don’t work well. At best, they filter just 10% of exhaled aerosols. That’s the bottom line in the newest study out of Canada. Here’s the nuance of the story:
“N95 or KN95 face masks may be the best way to avoid COVID-19 during crowded indoor events. That’s the recommendation from a new study reporting most cloth masks just don’t do the job when it comes to stopping the spread of coronavirus within enclosed spaces.”
Researchers quickly add that cloth masks, while not super effective, do provide some benefit.
“There is no question it is beneficial to wear any face covering, both for protection in close proximity and at a distance in a room,” says study leader Serhiy Yarusevych, a professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering, in a university release.
So, should you wear a mask indoors? I would, just to be on the safe side. But let’s face it, those who bristle at mandatory mask rules have a point. Ten percent effectiveness is a pretty lousy justification for Taliban-ish rules, isn’t it?
Secondly, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the term “close contact” has a new definition because of the Delta Variant of COVID-19.
The “old” definition, which was established — what? — five minutes ago, was coming within 6 feet of a sicko for 15 minutes or longer. Now with the Delta Variant something like 1,000 times more communicable, the medical community is at a loss to define the new definition for “close contact.” Scientists say that you can get infected by walking into a bathroom after — after! — the infected person is gone. Yikes!
And thirdly, along comes this news gem:
Bloomberg reports that the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines among front-line workers declined to 66% after the delta variant became dominant, compared with 91% before it arose.
The vaccines still work, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say, but the ability to predict the length of effectiveness remains more an art than a science.
So, that’s my “doctor’s” report for the week. Good luck!
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO
May I recommend the podcast “Bear Grease” for your next road trip. In particular, try episode 4 entitled “Death of a Bear Hunter.” The storyteller in the podcast, Clay Newcomb, is an interesting fellow, especially if you like hunting and the pioneer era of American history.
ONE MORE THING
— Has anyone else turned on the wrong burner and cooked absolutely nothing for 20 minutes?
— When you read “Lord of the Rings” as a teenager you wanted to be an Elf, because they were powerful and immortal. When you read it as an adult, you just want to be a Hobbit and live in a hole.
— When the car in front of me is driving slowly on the 101 between Novato and San Rafael, I move a bit to the side so the car behind me can see it is not me.
For regular readers, thanks for stopping by again. If you are a newbie, welcome aboard. Tell a friend. Until next week, please take the time to laugh a little, be kind in all that you do, and always question authority.
(Sherman Frederick is a Hall of Fame journalist and publisher of Marin’s finest community newspapers. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 415-408-1073.)