The CDC now recommends Americans wear cloth face masks or some other face covering out in public. A video shared by Lex Fridman demonstrates just how vital it is to wear something over our faces — not to protect the wearer but those the wearer interacts with. If everyone had a mask, we would all be safer.
— Lex Fridman (@lexfridman) April 3, 2020
Why cloth, though? Well, these can be made at home and can be reused for going out in public. One would need bleach or a sanitizer to clean it. My mask has a design on it and since bleach would destroy the design, I made a little jar of an alternative. The stores here are out of soap, so I had a friend pick up some Everclear, which has 95% alcohol by volume — well, mine does anyway. There are other types with 60% or higher alcohol content, which is what the CDC recommends.
You may have seen the following chart in several other news articles. This chart shows COVID-19 cases by country. The goal is to flatten the curve. If you look at South Korea, you can see that there is no curve. It’s completely flat. South Korea had its first coronavirus case on the same day as the US.
The US also doesn’t have much of a curve — it’s going straight up. The difference is that South Korea, unlike the US, took the coronavirus seriously while Americans here just shared memes and went to church. Some are still going to church despite stay-at-home orders.
Many East Asian countries have a culture around face masks — especially since the first SARS outbreak. The mask was a very important tool that helped contain the outbreak and is wearing as mask is now seen as a civic duty and support for health care providers. Here in America, it is seen as an inconvenience and as unnecessary — or it was until Rona came to town. CDC officials say that cloth masks shouldn’t be professional-grade — they will still offer some key benefits but that will help ensure that healthcare workers will be able to have access to the supplies they need while you can do your part in flattening that curve.
However, if you look at the US on that chart, you can see that things are still getting worse.
On that note, I just obtained a letter from the Louisiana Department of Health that was given to select healthcare workers as proof of permission to travel. Others are possibly going to go into lockdown, mandated by the state.
I have several friends in healthcare. One of them is a caregiver, and for the sake of anonymity, I will refer to my friend in the third person (they/them). They told me that they haven’t been paid and they have been working for an entire month. The reason why they haven’t been paid is that state and medical offices are closed.
They also sent me a photo of their letter from the OOAS Interim Assistant Secretary and OCDD Assistant Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health. The letter addresses, “All Police Departments, Mayor’s Office/Local Government, State and Federal Authorities.” It gives my friend permission to travel under the umbrella of “Essential Direct Support Workers.”
“Louisiana will be shut down,” they told me. They explained that these letters were sent to their company where they are an Essential Direct Support Worker for a recipient of in-home or even facility-based services. These services are provided through the Office for Citizens with Developmental Disabilities (OCDD) or the Office of Aging and Adult Services (OAAS), both of which fall under the umbrella of the Louisiana Department of Health.
This letter sent for the purpose of giving my friend permission to travel in the event of a state-wide shutdown. In other words, we will not be able to leave our homes at all — not even to go to the store for groceries. This sounds crazy, but it is quite possible at this point and this letter could simply be something that is covering all of the bases for a just-in-case scenario — or it could be a hint at what could be imminent.
Four weeks ago we really didn’t believe that COVID-19 would do the damage it is doing now. If you would have told me back in January that there would be a nationwide quarantine in effect in less than three months from now, I would have nodded my head, pretended to believe you, and after you left, shook my head in disbelief.
In Louisiana, there are now over 10,000 cases of COVID-19, 370 have died, and there are 1,707 in the hospital. My landlady told me that one of our other neighbors who lives a block over is home from the hospital. She had caught it and was on a ventilator for a while but she is recovering. Clusters of coronavirus in Louisiana nursing homes have gotten so bad that officials have stopped publishing them. This means that officials will not list which nursing homes have COVID-19 outbreaks.
My next-door neighbor has taken to power washing our doors and steps with bleach and water. I also spray down my doorknobs, mailboxes, and trash can. You should have seen the way I decontaminated my antibiotics when they were delivered. We also wear masks when we greet each other and always stay 6 feet apart. To be honest, I am grateful that I live where I do — I am surrounded by people with good hearts and we all try to look out for one another.
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