Local scientists help make the case for masks and call for clarity on coronavirus transmission

“The mask is your first line of defense,” Kimberly Prather, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said during an Oct. 5 news conference about the need for clearer public health guidelines to combat the coronavirus.

The online event highlighted a letter in which Prather and five other scientists urged researchers to deliver clear information about how SARS-CoV-2 — the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — is spread in the air.

In guidelines updated Oct. 5, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the virus can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission.

“Some infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes to hours. These viruses may be able to infect people who are further than six feet away from the person who is infected or after that person has left the

Read More

Candy chutes and masks: COVID-19 safety tips for Halloween

If you think Halloween this year needs to be anything like last year’s version, health officials have one answer for you: Nope.

With neighborhoods starting to make plans for how to, or how not to, celebrate Halloween in the middle of a pandemic, some standards have been set to help you make decisions.

Guidelines for Halloween from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published Sept. 21 warn against door-to-door trick-or-treating, even if you’re wearing a mask.

Trunk or treat events also are discouraged, along with “crowded costume parties held indoors.”

And don’t even think about visiting indoor haunted houses.

Screaming, as you might imagine, is an effective way to spread COVID-19.

Instead, the CDC advises, opt for outdoor, one-way haunted forests, with ample social distancing particularly to guard against someone screaming close by.

The CDC also gives its blessing to pumpkin patches or orchards as long as “people use

Read More

Should College Students Be Shamed Into Wearing Masks?

Instead of spring fever, fests and flings, March unceremoniously treated college students to a swift one-way ticket back home. My freshman arrived at our local airport COVID-free, but tearful and disappointed beyond consolation. This global pandemic affected everyone and everything we knew, and the daily tally of lost lives broke our hearts. Across the world and every segment of society, we were literally all in this mess together. Several months later, my daughter’s university’s reopening efforts were monumental and admirable, but “in it together” took on a different meaning and a new set of complications.

Many universities have taken extraordinary measures to ensure a relatively safe return to campus, and students have an obligation to the school and to each other to abide by the restrictions that have been implemented for everyone’s safety. The New York Times reports over 88,000 COVID-19 cases at universities across the country.

My teen’s university

Read More

Face Masks and Hearing Loss

Consumer Reports has no financial relationship with advertisers on this site.

Karen Franklin has not ventured out much from her home in Yonkers, N.Y., recently—and it’s not just because of fears of COVID-19. The 65-year-old has had hearing loss for over 30 years, and even with a hearing aid in one ear and a cochlear implant in the other, she now finds it too difficult to navigate a world where everyone suddenly communicates from behind a mask, often at a great distance. 

“I was at an outdoor baby shower a few weeks ago, with everyone wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart, and I felt completely clueless,” she says. “I could not hear people clearly, and I also couldn’t lip read, which often helps me if I miss a word or two. Up until now, I’ve never felt isolated because of my hearing loss. . . . But now it’s

Read More

US tops 200,000 deaths in less than 8 months; toll could double by year’s end; 70% of some KN95 masks below standard

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus quietly surpassed 200,000 on Tuesday, less than eight months after the first American fatality.

The U.S. reached 100,000 deaths in May. Now, some experts estimate the death toll could almost double by year’s end.

Fatigue for social distancing and the push to get back into offices and schools could fuel new cases – and deaths – in the coming weeks and months. Experts at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington predict 378,321 deaths by January.

The nation marches on. Hollywood is primed to make a comeback after months of filming delays, and the Centers for Disease Control has issued guidelines for relatively safe Halloween celebrations. Traditional trick-or-treating gets the thumbs-down. And a public relations staffer at the National Institutes of Health is set to “retire” after being exposed for writing articles on a conservative website that attacked

Read More

Hollywood unions, studios reach return-to-work deal; US nears 200K deaths; 3 NFL coaches fined for not wearing masks

Hollywood is primed to make a comeback after months of delaying television shows and films amid the coronavirus pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 Americans.

Unions and major studios have reached an agreement that will allow production to start with COVID-19 protocols. The deal includes testing cast and crew members, mandatory use of personal protective equipment, 10 days of paid COVID-19 sick leave for employees who test positive or require quarantining, and a supervisor to oversee all coronavirus operations.

Meanwhile, a public relations staffer at the National Institutes of Health is set to “retire” after being exposed for writing articles on a conservative website that attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci, who runs the agency. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said they learned of the incident Monday morning, NBC News reported. “We have no further comments on this as it is a personnel matter,” spokeswoman Kathy Stover said.


Read More

Trump Administration Shut Down U.S. Postal Service Plan to Mail Masks to Every American: Reports

PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration shut down a plan from the U.S. Postal Service to mail five free face masks to every U.S. household in April, according to several reports.

The USPS, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), had drafted a press release announcing that it would distribute a stockpile of 650 million reusable masks to every residential address in the country. The first shipments, in April, would go to COVID-19 hotspots.

“Our organization is uniquely suited to undertake this historic mission of delivering face coverings to every American household in the fight against the COVID-19 virus,” then-Postmaster General and CEO Megan J. Brennan said the unsent press release.

RELATED: If All Americans Wore Masks ‘We Could Drive This Epidemic to the Ground,’ Says CDC Director

Internal White House emails, obtained by the Washington Post and NBC News, showed that the Trump

Read More

The Best Face Masks to Buy Online

The fashion world is stepping up in a time of need: Countless companies are now making, selling and donating non-medical grade face masks for daily protection from COVID-19.

Demand for the best face mask options has soared in recent months, in part because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) masks in public settings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. PPE masks are usually made from breathable a fabric like cotton and differ from a surgical mask and N95 respirators that experts say should be reserved for health care workers who are caring for the sick.

In times of crisis, it’s heartwarming to see companies we love and support giving back using the tools and skills they know best. Nordstrom, the largest employer of tailors in the country, has trained its alterations teams to make face masks to distribute to health care

Read More

Customs seizes 500,000 faulty N95 masks in Chicago en route from China to New Jersey

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized 500,000 faulty N95 masks headed to New Jersey from Schenzhen, China, after they were found to be less than 95% effective.

The seizure, worth an estimated $3 million, was made in Chicago last week when Homeland Security asked the CBP’s Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team in the Windy City to apprehend and inspect the shipment, CBP said in a statement.

Thirty of the masks were inspected at a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention facility, which found that 10% of the respirators tested had a filter efficiency rating below 95%, CBP said in a statement last Thursday.

While the suggested retail price was just under $500,000, the potential retail sales value was more like $3 million due to demand, CBP said.

Despite a push for more personal protective equipment, there is still a shortage of the highly refined N-95 masks in the U.S.

Read More

Face masks pick perilous path from health protector to fashion accessory

<span>Photograph: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

At the Venice Film Festival the actor Tilda Swinton pulled out an ornate gold design face mask and wore it on the red carpet, just like she would have with a statement clutch bag or a must-have piece of jewellery.

The mask was not entirely pandemic-approved – on Instagram the designer James Merry said the custom-made piece was inspired by “stingray skeletons, seaweed and orchids” – but it was symbolic of a bigger shift: the world of high fashion is finally allowing itself to embrace the coronavirus face mask.

Last week also saw Lady Gaga light up the static VMA awards show with a parade of highly fashion-conscious masks. There was the bubblegum pink one from Cecilio Castrillo (a muzzle which resembled the facehugger from Alien), a horned one from Lance Victor Moore, a futuristic one designed by Smooth Technology and then when accepting an award

Read More