Yes, I am posting this one twice – it is that important.
In the early summer of 2020, as the world went into lockdown during the early days of the SARS CoV-2 (Corovavirus/COVID-19) global pandemic – I noticed many individuals declining to wear masks stating personal reasons and evidence-lacking “reasoning” as to why they would not comply with the recommendations of infectious disease experts all over the planet.
I also noticed several stories of different scientists testing masks to show how they were effective in reducing the spread of respiratory droplets/aerosols between people therby reducing the spread of the potentially deadly virus (as well as far less deadly but yet still annoying viruses such as the common cold).
I decided to perform a similar mask test for my students in my science education classes.
To do this I acquired some Petri dishes (from an Amazon supplier), then – with the mask off and a petri dish held at arm’s length – I coughed, sneezed, sang, and yelled at the open dishes. I then put on a two-layer cotton face mask and repeated the demonstration using a new petri dish. I labeled the dishes and let them incubate for a few days in a warm area – I did not have an incubator at the time but it was June so it was warm in the classroom, therefore – growth happened…LOTS of growth, far more than I expected…it was really gross and it smelled really funky.
The odd thing was that, while the dish that was exposed to my respiratory droplets/aerosols without a mask did in fact have more colonies of growth – so did the plate I had coughed on while wearing a mask. At first, it appeared that the mask did little to stop the spread of respiratory droplets.
I wrongly assumed the error was in the growth media of the Petri dishes so I acquired some new dishes (Amazon) with the same growth media used by many of the other researchers – 5% sheep’s blood – and I repeated the demonstration. This time I also added a table and placed several dishes out at .3, .9, and 1.5M (1′, 3′, and 6′) in an attempt to show how droplets travel outward from the body.
Again, the results were the same – not much difference between masked and unmasked.
I was perplexed.
I compared my results to the others and came to the only possible conclusion: my samples had been contaminated by the classroom environment. The natural dust and dirt on our feet, bodies, and hair that the students and I bring inside with us from the nearby forest and garden, our sloughed off human skin cells and hair, animal/bird dander (we have several free-range chickens), the fact that the building is an old log cabin. Along with all this fun with particulates – the classroom is host to many different species of reptile, amphibian, fish, arachnid, and sometimes even an Opossum. Then there are the billions of free-floating fungal spores and pollen grains from the forest all around us as well as the occasional wandering house fly or gnat – and all the fun little friends that hitchhike on their feet and faces. All these contaminants and contaminant vectors were, well – everywhere. So, my first two experiments were contaminated by the nature of nature.
What to do? How could I reduce the natural contamination factor of my classroom environment to produce a more un-contaminated result? A room air filter you say? Yes, I already had one of those – a big one. Obviously, it could only do so much.
Since it would be next to impossible to make my classroom free of natural contaminants – the only option was to build a Cleanroom to rule out some of the contamination in the hopes of obtaining a better result – so, that is what I did.
The video below shows the results of my efforts and I hope it serves to demonstrate the how and the why of why masks work and why it is important to wear them during a global pandemic. Watch to the end if you are interested in learning how I built the Cleanroom.
This video is long because I choose to be thorough and transparent. To demonstrate this requires procedure and patience. If you are in a hurry and want to bypass all the “meat” of the video and go directly to my findings – then feel free to do so by skipping ahead to the time index of 39:17
I test several common protective face masks in a cleanroom of my own design.
This video is long because I choose to be thorough and transparent. To demonstrate this requires procedure and patience. If you are in a hurry and want to bypass all the “meat” of the video and go directly to my findings – then feel free to do so by skipping ahead to the time index of 39:17
The back story: in the early summer of 2020 I noticed many mask tests being conducted by different scientists to demonstrate the effectiveness of wearing masks to protect us from COVID-19 (and other nasty infectious diseases such as Influenza). Below is an example of one of these mask demonstrations from Dr. Rich Davis -the regional director of microbiology at Providence Health Care in Spokane, Washington.
Dr. Davis’s example along with others (listed below) inspired me to attempt a similar mask test in my classroom for my students in the attempt to show the effectiveness – and the necessity – of wearing a mask during a global pandemic.
To do this I acquired some Petri dishes (from an Amazon supplier), then – with a mask off and a petri dish held at arm’s length – I coughed, sneezed, sang, and yelled at the open dishes. I then put on a two layer cotton face mask and repeated the demonstration exactly as the first time.
I labeled the dishes and let them incubate for a few days in a warm area – I did not have an incubator at the time but it was June so it was warm in the classroom, therefore – growth happened…LOTS of growth, far more than I expected…it was really gross actually and it smelled really funky.
The odd thing was that, while the dish that was exposed to my respiratory droplets/aerosols without a mask did in fact have more colonies of growth – so did the plate I had coughed on while wearing a mask. At first it appeared that the mask did little to stop the spread of respiratory droplets.
I wrongly assumed my error was in the growth media of the petri dishes so I acquired some new dishes with the same growth media used by many of the other researchers – 5% sheep’s blood – and I repeated the demonstration. This time I also added a table and placed several dishes out at 1′, 3′ and 6′ in an attempt to show how droplets travel outward from the body.
Again, the results were the same – not much difference between masked and unmasked.
I was perplexed.
I compared my results to the others and came to the only possible conclusion: my samples had been contaminated by the classroom environment. The natural dust and dirt on our feet, bodies, and hair that the students and I bring inside with us from the nearby forest and garden, our sloughed off human skin cells and hair, animal/bird dander (we have several free-range chickens), the fact that the building is an old log cabin. Along with all this fun with particulates – the classroom is host to many different species of reptile, amphibian, fish, arachnid, and sometimes even an Opossum. Then there are the billions of free-floating fungal spores and pollen grains from the forest all around us as well as the occasional wandering house fly or gnat – and all the fun little friends that hitchhike on their feet and faces. All these contaminants and contaminant vectors were, well – everywhere.
So, my samples were contaminated by the nature of nature.
What to do? How could I reduce the natural contamination factor of my classroom environment to produce a more un-contaminated result?
A room air filter you say? Yes, I already had one of those – a big one. Obviously, it could only do so much.
Since it would be next to impossible to make my classroom free of natural environmental contaminants – the only option I could see was to build a Cleanroom myself in the hopes of ruling out some of the environmental contamination in the hopes of obtaining a better result – so, that is what I did.
The embedded video shows the results of my efforts and I hope it serves to demonstrate the how and the why of why masks work and why it is important to wear them during a global pandemic.
Watch to the end if you are interested in learning how I built the Cleanroom.
What follows is a transcript of comments between my friend since high school Gordon Smith, myself, and other friends. This comment thread took place on social media outlet Facebook mid-summer 2020. Gordon contracted SarsCoV-2 (Corona virus/COVID-19) in July of 2020 and the following commentary outlines how it has impacted his life. Gordon and I have teamed up to bring his story to you and it is our hope that his experiences dealing with this new virus may give you and your family the knowledge, willpower, and ammunition to use against it to stay healthy and virus free.
7/19/20 10:10pm Gordon: Well fuck. Not tested yet, but no doubt I have it (COVID-19). Guess I have to make some serious lifestyle changes the next month. Ugh. Still in Raleigh and thinking I may go into UNC hospital in a bit. I literally feel like I am drowning in mucus. I have literally gone from oh it is not that over the last 3 days – to shit.
7/19/20 11:24 pm Gordon: Cannot breathe well and that just happened this afternoon.
7/19/20 11:36 pm Gordon: I am most definitely positive. 102 temp and every symptom plus driving and literally throwing up mucus.
7/20/20 4:15pm Gordon: Just got my chest x-rays. Walking pneumonia with a side of Covid. Lol
7/20/20 4:26 pm Friend: you tested positive for Covid-19?
7/20/20 4:27 Pm Gordon: Yeppers. Go big or go home eh!?!? Tested twice. Quick test yes, we shall see on the other one.
7/20/20 4:28 pm Friend: Ugh. Please be careful and follow their directions.
7/20/20 4:28 pm Gordon: OH I am and will.
7/20/20 4:35 pm Gordon: It is much worse. This hit me fast and made me panic. I literally made a will last night thinking I would be dead today. Lol… not dead…not as bad. Drove home from Raleigh and now working on what hotel I am going to go stay in.
7/20/20 12:10 pm Gordon: Wow….while sitting here at Pardee urgent care in Fletcher I have heard 11 (people), all men except for one girl child, say the exact symptoms.
7/20/20 12:28 pm Gordon: Ugh – bastards just did another covid19 nose jam test.
7/20/20 12:46pm Friend: When will you know?
7/20/20 12:48 pm Gordon: This test – a few days. The quick test was positive.
7/20/20 12:49 pm Friend: Oh hell. What are you going to do?
7/20/20 Gordon: Not sure yet. Got to find a place to go. Thinking the Marriott.
7/20/20 3:53pm Friend: Omg Gordon my new friend who I love. Fucking be careful.
7/20/20 4:14 pm Gordon: I am er was.
7/20/20 4:32 pm Gordon: Just got my chest x-rays. Walking pneumonia with a side of covid. Lol…oh yea, and a cracked rib too from coughing or throwing up!
7/20/20 4:44 pm Friend: That is a HORRID cough to crack a rib!
7/20/20 4:51 pm Gordon: Yea let me tell you!
7/20/20 7:17 pm Friend: My husband cracked ribs also, but in March, no tests … you are pretty much confirming he had it for me.
7/20/20 7:21 pm Gordon: That hurts! Did you have the thousand stabs breathing?
7/20/20 7:04pm Gordon: They put me on some drugs for the pneumonia but otherwise a wait and see what their test says. They are not relying on my other doctor’s quick test.
7/20/20 8:37 pm Gordon: It will be ok in time. Just hope I do not get any of the damage it seems to do to some.
7/20/20 7:02 pm Gordon: Lungs are sort of like hundreds of needles stabbing when you breathe. Otherwise I can handle the rest.
7/20/20 7:16 pm Friend: Are they keeping you or are you home?
7/20/20 7:19 pm Gordon: At home for the moment, moms next door with our neighbor/bestie. If I keep getting worse they said to go on to the ER.
7/20/20 11:32 am Gordon: So now getting x-rays at Pardee urgent care fletcher since my Doctor’s machine broke down. 7 people in the lobby here to get tested. My quick test was positive.
7/20/20 11:34 am Gordon: It’s like my head has opened up some sort of drain. Hose system. I literally feel like I am drowning in mucus.
7/21/20 9:57 am Gordon: Thousands of needles to my lungs when I breathe.
7/21/20 10:01pm Friend: How are you???!
7/21/20 10:02 pm Gordon: Not sure how to reply. One thing is better – like lungs and breathing I think – but seems to change every few hours. More things going wrong than right. I know this is a war not a battle.
7/21/20 10:03 pm Friend: are you up and able or bedridden?
7/21/20 10:05 pm Gordon: No I am up. I do feel like a truck ran over me. Sleeping about 16 hours. I, lol, am the son of another Gordon. We do not go down easily, nor does my mother!
7/21/20 11:08 pm Gordon: So wow…only about 18 hours of a med and my lungs are doing stupid great! No longer a thousand needle pricks on every breath – only a hundred! Kidney or liver issues maybe? Not sure. Going back to a Dr. tomorrow morning. Every fiber in my body aches like I have been run over by a bulldozer I would think. Severe headaches, nausea (Did not let the scrip happen) and severe pain every time I hack from the ribs and the whole inner cavity. I still feel somewhat that I have a faucet in my brain that is totally on tap flowing down my throat making me what to puke. Lol…SO I feel better basically! I think I can and will sleep about another 14 hours soon. So wear a Mask and a full body shield. And – and stay home. This is the worse I have ever been. Oh yea, also found my BP is now 142 over 110. So who knows – might still stroke out. BTW. I made out a will just in case. If something happens bad, it would please me if you all meet on the published day/night at Christie’s restaurant which you can eat whatever and drink whatever. I made provisions for a wake there. Also it will be great cabs.
7/21/20 11:10 pm Friend: Hang in there…. with luck, the worst is about to pass.
7/21/20 11:10 pm Gordon: Kind of do not think that since I really have crappy luck.
7/21/20 11:12 pm Friend: Stay positive… perhaps take heart in the old saying that only the good die young…you could be immortal.
7/21/20 11:14 pm Gordon: Oh no Billy Joel lives in me… I went to a catholic school with the bus driver Mrs. Adams playing that for us boys every trip to the YMCA from school! It stuck and I am not good!!!!!!!!!! ROFL!
7/21/20 11:16pm Friend: As a recovering Catholic, embrace the guilt and move on LOLOLOL
7/21/20 11:10pm Gordon: I am going to try and describe what is going on so you will know what you have to look forward too. I am running a 98 temp so I am cool as far as temps. Everything else sucks. I honestly feel like I am dying, imagining what that may be like. If I lie down I wheeze and need to sit up to breathe. I am taking 20 breathes a minute and they are all painful.
7/21/20 11:45 pm Gordon: Even though I am drinking about 3 gallons of water and a half a gallon of OJ a day – I am having sever Charlie horses that curl my toes about every two hours. That is weird.
7/21/20 11:46pm Gordon: I upped my daily vitamins by basically 8 times. Not all of them mind you but I have upped most of them knowing the body gets rid of the rest.
7/21/20 11:53pm Gordon: …oh yea…. severe chest pain on my left side but no radiating nor do I feel like and elephant sat on my chest. Nor any back pain. So no heart attack I think.
7/22/20 1:10am Gordon: I am doing 8 times me normal vitamins for the most part. I am more worried about my heart, liver and kidneys at this point. I am now thinking no more 100 years as I thought I would make it. More like 80.
7/22/20 1:11am Gordon: One of my friends in China that was in Wuhan is my age and now doing mini strokes – blows her and my minds.
7/22/20 1:22am Gordon: I always think of “Ming and Joe” that were there. They saw it firsthand.
7/22/20 3:05am Friend: If you need to go to hospital, don’t hesitate. I’m sorry you are going through this, my friend.
7/22/20 9:31 am Gordon: Wear a mask, face shield, and gloves buddy. You do not want this!!
7/22/20 10:20 pm Friend: Feel better buddy! Get rest and see the doc. We have been down a week now and just got negative Covid tests. I still wonder if we would have tested positive 2 days after…
7/22/20 10:27 pm Gordon: This is a mother I can tell you this. Never been this sick in my life and I had cancer once! Hope you do not get pneumonia like I did. Had a lot of tests done today on my liver/kidneys/heart, and blood. Time will tell.
7/23/20 6:43 am Gordon: Wooohoooo! Woke up this morning without the constant mucus flow (Or brain leakage as I call it) at 1000%. Now it is at maybe 25%. Here is to hoping that symptom is gone soon. The Steroid will help with breathing I was just put on. The cough is the MF’er with the cracked rib. Highly irritable missing my great wines and work.
7/23/20 6:51 am Friend: Maybe you’ll come up with a covid cookbook? I heard you should never let a good crisis go to waste 🙂
7/23/20 6:52 am Gordon: Oh trust me on this one…you do not want to eat or drink. Just drink lots of water.
7/23/20 8:03 am Friend: I hope you’re turning the corner!
7/23/20 8:04 am Gordon: Ah other things are crappy but this one is good!
7/23/20 8:38 am Friend: How are you? This is pitiful. 😩
7/23/20 8:39 am Gordon: Got to agree. Lol
7/23/20 8:40 am Gordon: I am posting so some of my FB friends that still disagree with masks face shields get to know what is coming their way.
7/23/20 8:48 am Friend: I hope it works. So many that I know still believe it’s just political non-sense. I hope you feel better soon. 🙁
7/23/20 8:50 am Gordon: So now I have 3 FB friends that have had it or going through it now. (Won’t out the other 3, but one is now a believer!)
7/23/20 8:52 am Friend: I think it takes some people to have that up close and personal experience to believe it. I just wish it wasn’t that way. But, either way…I’m proud of you for trying. ❤
7/23/20 9:10 am Friend: Keep feeling better, bro. So sorry you’re going through this.
7/23/20 9:12 am Gordon: Thanks. This has a lot of complications. Mask and face shield up!
7/23/20 9:15 am Friend: I don’t go out in public without mine.
7/23/20 9:36am Friend: Happy you are getting better. 🙏😁
7/23/20 9:36 am Gordon: One thing is…others not.
7/23/20 10:05 Friend: 😢 Sending prayers
7/23/20 1:56pm Friend: Don’t get too comfortable … treat yourself like you’re sicker than you are because it WILL sneak back up on you…
7/23/20 1:11 pm Friend: Are you serious about the cracked rib?
7/23/20 2:44 pm Gordon: Oh yea. I had a GF about 15 years ago that had a daughter that jumped on my chest and even though she was about 40 pounds she cracked a rib. I coughed so hard it re-cracked.
7/23/20 9:20 pm Gordon: Was told no more steak. So I bought one more for myself. 3#s Angus. I’ll gnaw on it for 3 days. Too bad I cannot smell or taste the damn thing. So onto other news. Fever running 101.4 all day. Mucus is almost nothing. (In other words not swallowing every 20 seconds) might have kidney, liver and heart damage. No idea about the lungs. I am having memory issues. Went to do something I have done thousands of times and totally had no clue today. BUT!!!! I was smart enough to open mom a Justin cabernet with her steak ($25) Instead of the good stuff since I had to have a few swigs. Soooooo – I STILL HAVE SOMETHING UPSTAIRS THAT HAS NOT LEAKED DOWN ONLY TO BE SWALLOWED!
7/23/20 10:46pm Friend: I’d rather be dead than not be able to eat a good steak…be careful of what I wish for…
7/23/20 10:51 pm Gordon: Yes, Mask and Face Shield up! Steak is not worth death. Found out a lot with this Covid19 and testing. I am over weight as we know by 42#’s. My heart is not in good shape nor kidneys or liver. Excessive living, even though I prefer Seafood. Time to make that change. Just wish the gyms were opened. Called an old buddy who was in the Army Special Forces who will come get me out of bed 5 days a week when I am better and force me to work out and get back into shape.
7/23/20 10:52 pm Friend: I have the same issues… I’m fricking 64 and… Never mind! Get better!
7/22/20 10:28 pm Gordon: Oh by the way – reason #36 why you need to wear a mask, face shield, and gloves: Constant diarrhea. Yea, smells like roses.
7/23/20 2:36 am Friend: Yer gonna get sued by Roses for this post 😉
7/23/20 3:13 pm Friend: THAT’S where all the toilet paper went! No, seriously, that could be from your huge antibiotic.
7/24/20 10:24 am Gordon: Day 6 of having this crap. Woke up with excellent oxygen saturation. Whew. Morphed onto my sofa the last 16 hours since the bedroom is 20 steps away. My doctors are worried about heart, kidney and liver damage and have tested. I am more worried about my mind. Forgetting things I know and that is terrifying. I was good wearing good masks (n100s) but not always wearing my glasses that wrap around. I bet that I got this through my eyes. Wear a face shield!
7/24/20 12:27 pm Gordon: People really got to realize just a great mask is not enough. Eyes are the easiest way to get it.
7/25/20 8:33 am Me: Hey Gordon, how are you feeling today and what are your symptoms looking like? Also, what are your thoughts and recommendations to all the people out there who think this thing is “just a little cold,” or a manufactured hoax, government/election year plot, conspiracy to control people through mask-wearing, forced vaccinations…yada yada yada?
7/25/20 11:20 am Gordon: Wow…new record. Just took me 15 mins to make 2 packages of instant oatmeal, a new personal best record for me this week. Betting Webster’s this week replaces my picture for a sloth.
7/25/20 11:22 am Gordon: Day 7. Slept in until 10 am. Took O2 reading of 86. (Get an oxygen reader everyone) that is going the wrong way. All usual symptoms still here. Headache, fatigue, (getting off the sofa is not easy), diarrhea, cough, pain from broken rib, forgetfulness, fog, mucus overflow, and weird sharp pains. Daily routine is drinking 12 33.8 oz Smartwaters a day, refilling all of them, in addition to 1/2 gal of OJ. Vitamins all along. Steroid inhaler, horse pills (Augmentin) zinc, vitamin d, and melatonin. Sleep of 16 hours a day. Water in water out, that’s my big day. Keeping the house at 65 and still sweat? No desire to eat but planning grilled swordfish tonight with a leek and caper Amish butter, saffron rice and haircut de vert. Normally I can whip that out in 30 mins. This is going to take all day to prep.
7/25/20 11:37 am Gordon: I still know a few FB friends that do not believe nor think masks are needed. I sort of agree with them. Like my 2 friends in china that did not go out without proper PPE being a full respirator mask. I am now using the 3m 6700. IF your eyes are not protected you will get it if you walk through where I just exhaled and you walk through it. I know from them and was posting on this timeline that many were dying in China and they literally stopped counting over there. MY friend “Ming” was there trying to get the word out desperately about what was happening and what was coming to the rest of the World. (Going to nominate her for CNN’s annual awards) I think the idiots that think this is political and a “Control” thing are so fucking nuts that I get rid of them pretty quickly now. Personally I have offered to buy them beers and come on over and let’s discuss in person and keep the mask at home. Steve O’Neil – all I really know and see now is our country needs to start spending a lot more money on mental health since there are a lot more unstable people out there then we thought there were. I get the boomers who have no education but now I see people we went to school with being a complete wacko on 5G etc. etc. etc. I also think it needs to be some sort of crime to deliberately publish untrue information and that FB and Twitter now do need to be regulated and have to flag all potential garbage and have consequences for publishing it. It is all a mess. I have been spending weeks looking at property in the south of France. 450k buys a good 8 acres with a nice little 3 bedroom home with insane views and a very nice quiet life. I have my escape plans.
7/25/20 1:59 Me: Yes, same here. I find it hard to believe that in today’s world with so much access to peer-reviewed science-supported facts – that so many people still choose to ignore those facts – on so many topics – and instead choose to believe the fear-driven conspiracy theories around the pandemic…and the shape of the earth, the existence of gravity, the moon landing, “chemtrails,” vaccines, 5G, Bill Gates, microchips, Chloroquine, alien “demon spawn/sperm”…so many lunatic-fringe type wacko things. I suppose it is just a sign of the times but they can say what they like, I’m always choosing the peer-reviewed science and reason over the fear mongering, evidence-lacking hearsay, and conspiracy-minded madness. I have a P100 respirator half mask on the way in the mail. I plan to use it when I have to go anywhere public or when I visit my mother. I would feel horrible if I visited with her and she came down with the virus after I had picked up her groceries for her. I don’t know how I would live with that. The new mask does not have eye protection but your story now has me considering a face shield to wear over the respirator. You are so right about mental health. So many people seem to be stuck in a crazy downward spiral of ignoring the facts and believing and sharing all the fear-mongering – it is really scary. I have had to delete one person already because they continuously trolled me on almost every factual post I shared about almost anything. They just attacked and ignored reality and substituted their own manufactured idea of reality. It was truly bizarre. I am not sure what the answer to all this is but I do know that following the lead of science is a great place to start. I also know that my students give me great hope for the future. They are so smart and focused and they despise the hate, injustice, the racism, and the sleazy, perverted, greedy old men wanting to run everything with only profit in mind – when they become adults they will oust the greedy warmongers and doomsayers running things now and hopefully, the world will change for the better. The respirator mask I ordered: https://www.amazon.com/GVS-SPR451-Elipse-Respirator-Medium/dp/B013SIIBME/?tag=theedcmaga123-20
7/25/20 2:00pm Gordon: You got to protect your eyes! We know it can hang in a spot I just exhaled for 2 hours in the air.
7/25/20 2:02 pm Gordon: I am really sure that is how I got it.
7/25/20 2:11 pm Me: Do you have an idea of where you may have picked it up?
7/25/20 2:12 pm Me: Whenever I am in a store I constantly listen for coughing – if I hear it, I immediately go the opposite direction.
7/25/20 2:13 pm Gordon: Yes I am very sure I did (get it) on July 4th when all the out of towners invaded Hendersonville. I went out and wore my usual to get to my bar seat that was well away from everyone until the out of towners from GA, SC and Fla ordered drinks right next to me.
7/25/20 2:14 pm Gordon: Coughing is Number one on my radar too and I know the cough since I had it in Jan/Feb and now again.
7/25/20 2:14 pm Me: Damn. Yep, that sounds very plausible. I am staying away from all bars, pubs, restaurants, any public places where people from out of town – and now locals who think it is a hoax – may mingle.
7/25/20 2:17 pm Me: I also have a very strict sanitation regimen I have been using since April to help keep COVID out of my home, my classroom, my students, my friends, my family…and my body. I can trust myself to do all these things and take all these precautions – but the hard part is trusting others to do what is right for themselves and for everyone else they may come in contact with. I just cannot understand how some people ignore the facts and put their own selfish interests first while endangering others in the process.
7/25/20 2:18 pm Gordon: Asheville and Hendersonville are over run now with outsiders but now our local population has it. When I was getting tested last Monday in the hour I was there 11 others came in hacking. 9 men (Construction types) 1 woman, and a 11 yo girl. All had the same symptoms. 7/25/20 2:21 pm
Me: same here in Brevard. People everywhere, acting like nothing is wrong. I understand that people are done with this, but this is not done with us. Until we have a vaccine and/or better treatment – nothing will get better unless people just toss out their wants and focus on taking care of each other over their own personal desires. That is nuts…so many, so fast…
7/25/20 3:57 pm Me: It (my new mask) came today. I’ll be closing off the outflow valve to protect others from me.
7/25/20 3:57 pm Gordon: shop goggles?
7/25/20 3:59 pm Me: yep, they should fit over my glasses.
7/25/20 4:00 pm Me: Some may say I’m living in fear, but no, I’m living with facts.
7/25/20 4:15 pm Me: So true. My healthy fear of getting this thing is far lessened by my trust in the facts and the recommendations of the experts. Sure, I could still get it but I believe I have greatly reduced my chances by taking all the recommended precautions and then some…and soon an eye shield as well. I think that part of the problem some seem to have with the science and the recommendations of the experts is that they are often changing with new scientific findings. This uncertainty causes some people to mistrust the experts and science in general. This just shows that many people must not have listened in school when the teachers/professors told us that is exactly how science works – especially when something totally new comes along that not much is known about such as SARS CoV-2. The scientific process is not perfect, but it is far better than doing nothing, calling it and a hoax, and all the other anti-science nonsense floating around on the interwebs. Healthy fear keeps us healthy. Healthy fear allows us to improvise, adapt, overcome and evolve to meet any new situation life may throw at us. Editor’s Tangent. While what follows was not part of the original social media comment thread, it is relevant in the context of this post. As of 8/9/20, and due to your experience Gordon, I am no longer taking any chances when I need to visit a public place such as a grocery or hardware store and I am now using this mask which protects my mouth, respiratory system, and my eyes from almost any possible infection.
Here’s a photo from a few days ago…and before anyone asks – yes, I have added a filter to the exhale port to protect others.
When I wear this thing I feel like a cross between an astronaut and a SCUBA diver with a little bit of dark lord of the Sith thrown in for good measure. Do I care what people think? In a word: no. I know that some people will see using a mask such as this (or any mask) as living in fear or overkill or both, but I do not – I see it like this:
I wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and other specialized safety/protective equipment when needed for any other potential hazard to life and limb. For example: I wear rubber gloves, mask, and goggles when treating someone else’s wound, I wear a face shield, gloves, and chaps when chain sawing and weed trimming, I wear leg gaiters and use grip extending tongs and hooks when working with venomous snakes, I wear a filter mask when painting or working with chemicals , I wear boots for walking over challenging terrain, I wear insulated gloves in the winter, I wear ear/eye protection when using power tools or target shooting, I wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or caving/rock climbing, I wear a seat belt when driving, I wear SCUBA gear when diving, I use a flashlight at night, and I wear clothes at varying thicknesses depending upon the current environmental conditions (yes, clothes are PPE). So yes, just like all these other hazardous/potentially harmful activities – I choose to wear a filter/respirator mask when I am placing myself in situations where other animals or human animals may be carrying an infectious disease that has the potential to sicken, harm, or end me – and especially when some of those humans choose to endanger all of us by choosing to not wear a mask when in public during a global viral pandemic.
I am my mother’s healthcare care-giver. I do not want to take a potentially deadly disease to her or her friends. If this happened, I just do not know how I would be able to live with the knowledge that I was the vector of the pathogen that harmed her or someone else.
I am an essential employee and I do not want to take a potentially deadly disease to my students and coworkers. If this happened, I just do not know how I would live with the knowledge that I was the vector of the pathogen that harmed someone on my watch.
I would rather spend a onetime cost of ~$200 on a top of the line mask and filters, than the tens of thousands of dollars I would need to spend on treatment for COVID-19…and the costs associated with being out of work during a battle with COVID-19…and the potential of losing my job due to possible life-long health complications that could arise from having COVID-19.
If I came down with covid-19 – my wife and I could lose everything. Therefore, I am going to do everything in my power to not let that happen. If wearing a huge ugly mask in public, staying home and staying away from public places/gatherings as much as possible, physical distancing, following the recommendations of the infectious disease experts, listening to the science, and washing my hands a bit more is the only recipe available to keep me and my family, friends, students and coworkers as safe as possible from this monster of a virus – then so be it. I will do all these things until a time when either the experts say it is safe to resume “normal” activities and/or a vaccine/treatment is available and infection numbers start to drop.
After COVID-19 has passed into the history books I may continue to use the mask for other things such as but not limited to; breathing in very dusty conditions, breathing while painting things, breathing during a forest fire, breathing in the event of another epidemic or pandemic, breathing while working with hazardous chemicals (not that I ever do this – but now I will have the PPE if it ever comes up), breathing and surviving a chemical/biological attack from a domestic or international terrorist, or a “zombie apocalypse,” etc.…
I am not living in fear – I am living with facts. Now, back to Gordon’s story.
7/25/20 4:17 pm Gordon: Not to mention those that think “god” is going to protect them from COVID or has predetermined if they will live or die.
7/25/20 4:23 pm Me: Exactly – those folks are totally lunatic fringe dwelling wackjobs. Best to stay far away from them.
7/25/20 1:33 pm Me: Looks like it is a war for sure. Hang in there man, don’t let this thing get the best of you. Keep up the sleep, antibiotics (you may want to consider taking a high quality probiotic if your doctor agrees – it may help with the intestinal distress caused by the virus and the antibiotic – Augmentin really ripped me a new one once when I had to take it but probiotics literally saved my guts), lots of water and other therapies and hopefully the swordfish will help – I had a slab of salmon for breakfast 🙂
7/25/20 1:34 pm Gordon: All good advice. Doing yogurt.
7/25/20 1:34 pm Friend: How’s your O2 sat?
7/25/20 1:35 pm Gordon: Crap….86 waiting patiently for my new Oxygen machine to arrive via Amazon today.
7/25/20 1:31 pm Gordon: Here are links to what I have bought and am using to combat this crap.
7/25/20 1:45 pm Gordon: Had a UV system put on my HVAC a few days ago. Combo UV, Ionizers and Ozone units I am thinking with HEPA Filters
7/25/20 1:47 pm Friend: I live in the desert where dust is always an issue. Buying a BlueAir purifier has been the best investment for improving the overall air equality inside my villa. This might help in your journey. Any particulate matter can impact your lungs as you recover from covid.
7/25/20 1:52 pm Gordon: Just bought this! Blueair Air Purifier
7/27/20 7:14pm Gordon: Day 9 beginning to wonder if this crap will ever end. My cough has stopped for the most part. My oxygen level is holding well. Got my test results back and my liver and kidneys are fine. Lungs….eh. Glad I am not a smoker. I am going to buy a new sofa since this one is starting to smell like me, since I rarely leave it. This sucks. Wear a mask and a shield.
7/29/20 9:05 am Gordon: Day 13. Way better. Tired beyond belief. Other symptoms almost done. Lungs are now wheezy and that might be permanent. Liver and kidneys are good.
7/29/20 9:12 am Friend: Is your doctor telling you it might be permanent? So glad you’re feeling better though. Don’t overdo it.
7/29/20 9:13 am Gordon: Yes. Asthmatic now. No marathons in my future – or Cuban cigars.
7/29/20 9:15 am Friend: I wouldn’t listen to them just yet but I’m stubborn like that. You’re still not over the illness. Try not to worry just yet. It hasn’t been two weeks yet, right? How can they say that when it hasn’t yet been two weeks? I’m not a doctor but that seems alarmist. Probably best on the cigars though. 👌
7/29/20 9:16 am Gordon: Everyone is different of course, but they are going on info from what has already been seen throughout the world.
7/29/20 9:17 am Friend: I have heard it takes people time to regain their senses sometimes. Taste and smell.
7/29/20 9:18 am Gordon: and the “fuzziness”
7/29/20 12:24 pm Friend: Glad to see that you’re feeling better. I hope that you continue to heal completely and have no lingering effects.
7/29/20 5:23 pm Gordon: Well, that is all kind of suck news. I need to see a cardiologist now. Had an EKG scheduled next week and got in early.
7/29/20 6:35 pm Friend: No way!! That’s insane and absurd! I am glad your liver and kidneys are OK
7/29/20 7:18 pm Friend: Glad you are on the mend!!!
8/02/20 10:23 pm Friend: Feeling a little better?
8/02/20 10:25 pm Gordon: 100% better. Still have the lung crap and asthma now but otherwise looks like I beat it for now.
8/02/20 10:25 pm Friend: I’m very glad to hear that! 😁
8/02/20 10:26 pm Gordon: Me too! Making some lifestyle changes which were needed. Got to prolong the ticker as long as I can.
8/8/2020 Gordon: Just looked and it is hard to believe this all happened as fast as it did. I am a lucky one. My favorite bartender in Raleigh age 26 died first in March. My next door neighbor in Raleigh, a marine with 5 kids in excellent shape, age 41 died after 5 days getting it somehow. My attorney, 61 died in Brevard. He did have underlying issues but Covid took him out, and my mom’s best friend’s mother got it and died in 3 days. She was 94. So knowing these people – I am lucky. I have heart issues they detected using an EKG comparing it to one I just had 6 months ago along with blood tests. I now have asthma. I have a lot of times now where I feel I cannot breathe and hit my oxygen concentrator machine I bought during the illness. I never spent a night in the hospital but still have $17,482.15 in bills. I got to say I really thought I was going to die the second day I knew I had it. I started feeling bad on a Thursday 7/16 and by Friday 7/17, I thought that was it! I was in a panic trying to get a will done fast to make sure mom was going to be fine. I have no real symptoms now. The cough, fever, headaches are gone but the “fuzziness” is here as is the complete lack of energy. I feel like I am around 20% of my usual 100% energy level. To be honest sometimes it is hard to type. Before I came down with the monster that is covid I was pretty careful but I know I could have been more vigilant. I hope whoever reads this understands the fact that this is a terrible virus and it will not go away until everyone masks up, uses a face shield, gloves, and limits contact with everyone. Deaths today on 8/8/2020 are 161,682. I bet that number is larger but politics are now happening so who knows what our numbers actually are or will be, but having gone through it I would not be surprised if our death rate here in the US goes up 4 or 5 times this number. Good Luck Gordon S.
Update: Since Gordon’s last post he is doing a bit better but continues to have unusual cardiac and neurological after-effects from the virus. He is continuing to receive medical care and hopefully, in time, he will fully recover. While Gordon is doing better and on the road to recovery – the people close to him who were taken by this virus are forever gone, their friends and families in mourning, their human social and emotional support networks forever disrupted.
The lessons we should all take away from Gordon’s experience – if not plainly obvious – are as follows: SARS CoV-2/COVID 19 is a very real, very dangerous, potentially debilitating, and sometimes deadly disease.
This virus does not hunt for you – you hunt for it. You are its habitat – but only if you let it infect you.
The best way to keep from finding it and to keep it out of you is as follows: Stay away from places where it concentrates – places where there are high concentrations of other people – especially people you do not know that may have traveled from other locations.
Listen to and follow the recommendations of the infectious disease experts. Yes, these recommendations may change, that is just how science works. It is up to you to listen and adapt your life to any new information they may provide.
Just because a politician or other talking head on TV says it is OK to open the doors and go back to business as usual again – do not fully trust them – they are not infectious disease experts and they are not always following the recommendations of those experts when they make their – often profit over people based – decisions. Make your decisions based on the recommendations of the infectious disease experts. Until the time comes when the infectious disease experts say it is safe to go back to business as usual, Gordon and I and the infectious disease experts suggest the following:
Stay home. Work from home. Enjoy your newfound home life. If you must go out – please wear your mask and other PPE. Physically distance yourself from others. Wash your hands – often.
Trust science. Be patient. Science takes time. Love one another. Stay healthy.
Gordon Smith, Steve O’Neil, and friends – October 2020
Please note: any advertising within or following any posts to this blog are the work of WordPress, not the author(s) of the blog.