We're a little crazy, about science!

Day 307: COVID19 and BLM or why you should wear a mask


Despite the media blackout the Black lives matter protests are still going strong. To say I’m proud would be an understatement. Unfortunately with all the protests going on people are claiming that COVID19 isn’t as bad as people said it was, or that the protesters should stop because of the pandemic. The critiques all miss the point, this one simple trick will slow the transmission and it really works.

The anti-mask league. I wouldn’t blame you if you thought this was a new group, but it was a reactionary group that came about during the 1918 flu pandemic. Sometimes (wrongly) called the spanish flu, but it originated in the US. So why spanish flu? Well racism for one, but also because spain published reports on the spread while the US specifically kept the press from talking about it.

History has many lessons for us, but one we seem to forget is that we’ve already had a pandemic and just like then, we know what we need to do. Humans in general are stupid, let’s face it we are. You wouldn’t question needing to wear pants when you go outside, but for some reason when we ask people to wear a mask the cognitive dissidence kicks in.

We know that if you wear a mask and I wear one, when we interact the likelihood of spreading COVID19 drops dramatically, even if one of us is asymptomatic and carrying it. However, when we don’t wear a mask, there is a very good chance that it will spread. A great example of this is the fallout from memorial day weekend where we saw hundreds if not thousands of celebrations with large groups of people not social distancing, not wearing a mask, and now a good number of them are overwhelming hospital emergency rooms. We can’t have a second wave, we never ended the first wave.

Now when we look at the photos of the Black lives matter protests we see large groups of people who cannot social distance, but almost all, if not all, are wearing a mask. The R0 value, the value we assign for the spread of COVID19 in situations like this is less than 1. An R0 value is the average number of people infected by someone who is already infected.

The R0 for COVID19 has been hard to pin down, but it’s ranged anywhere from 1.5 all the way to 6. An R0 value of 3 means that for everyone 1 person infected, that person will infect 3 other people on average. In large celebrations without masks like the memorial day one that R0 value is much, much higher. An R0 value of less than 1 means that the disease will stop spreading and eventually stop all together.

This is why wearing a mask is so effective. It’s also why we haven’t and will not see a rise in cases of COVID19 from the Black lives matter protests. With a caveat. CS gas is being used and that will inevitably increase the spread of the disease. Police know this, they are doing it intentionally because they don’t care. By the way, you can learn how to best treat CS gas from this post. Hint: don’t use milk.

At the end of the day, we protest because we don’t have a choice. However, we do have a choice about protecting others. Wearing a mask is the best we can do to prevent the spread when we need to interact with others.

In short, wear a mask, save lives, and protest until the entire system has crumbled from the weight of its corruption and racism.


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