Covid-19 pandemic & Fake News - How you can help


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Don't think anyone in their right mind would argue that masks are a panacea, but I suspect they should help as a risk reduction measure:
Cloth does not stop isolated virions. However, most virus transmission occurs via larger particles in secretions, whether aerosol (<5 µm) or droplets (>5 µm), which are generated directly by speaking, eating, coughing, and sneezing; aerosols are also created when water evaporates from smaller droplets, which become aerosol-sized droplet nuclei. The point is not that some particles can penetrate but that some particles are stopped, particularly in the outward direction. Every virus-laden particle retained in a mask is not available to hang in the air as an aerosol or fall to a surface to be later picked up by touch...

...Cloth can block droplets and aerosols, and layers add efficiency. Filtration efficiency for single layers of different types of cotton cloth in a bioaerosol (0.2 µm) experiment was between 43% and 94%, compared with 98% to 99% for fabric from disposable medical masks (2). In a summary of similar observations, single layers of scarfs, sweatshirts, T-shirts, and towels were associated with filtration efficiency of 10% to 40% in experiments using NaCl aerosol (0.075 µm) (3). For tea towel fabric, studied with aerosol-sized particles, filtration efficiency in experiments using a bacterial marker was 83% with 1 layer and 97% with 2 layers, compared with 96% for a medical mask (4). In experiments using virus, 1 layer of tea towel had 72% efficiency and 1 layer of T-shirt fabric 51%, compared with 90% for a medical mask (4). A 2020 study confirms that some fabrics block clinically useful percentages of transmission, even for aerosols and even in single layers; multiple layers improve efficiency (5)...

Outward protection for cloth masks was extensively studied decades ago, and the results are highly relevant today. Compared with bacteria recovery from unmasked volunteers, a mask made of muslin and flannel reduced bacteria recovered on agar sedimentation plates by 99.3% to 99.9%, total airborne microorganisms by 99.5% to 99.8%, and bacteria recovered from aerosols (<4 µm) by 88% to 99% (6). A similar experiment in 1975 compared 4 medical masks and 1 commercially produced reusable mask made of 4 layers of cotton muslin (7). Filtration efficiency, assessed by bacterial counts, was 96% to 99% for the medical masks and 99% for the cloth mask; for aerosols (<3.3 µm), it was 72% to 89% and 89%, respectively.

A single randomized controlled trial of cloth masks studied an unusually inefficient mask and compared it with medical masks rather than no mask. For influenza-like illness, the attack rate in health care workers wearing cloth masks was 2.3%, compared with 0.7% in health care workers wearing medical masks as indicated and 0.2% in the group wearing medical masks continuously (9). This trial has been misinterpreted as showing that cloth masks increase risk for influenza-like illness, but it actually provides no evidence on the effectiveness or harms of wearing cloth masks compared with not wearing cloth masks because it had no comparator group without masks. Furthermore, filtration efficiency for the cloth masks used in this study was 3% (9)...

...When we apply the principles of evidence-based medicine to public policy, there is high-quality, consistent evidence that many (but not all) cloth masks reduce droplet and aerosol transmission and may be effective in reducing contamination of the environment by any virus, including SARS-CoV-2. No direct evidence indicates that public mask wearing protects either the wearer or others. Given the severity of this pandemic and the difficulty of control, we suggest that the possible benefit of a modest reduction in transmission likely outweighs the possibility of harm. Reduced outward transmission and reduced contamination of the environment are the major proposed mechanisms, and we suggest appealing to altruism and the need to protect others. We recognize the potential for unintended consequences, such as use of formal personal protective equipment by the general public, incorrect use of cloth masks, or reduced hand hygiene because of a false sense of security; these can be mitigated by controlling the distribution of personal protective equipment, clear messaging, public education, and social pressure. Advocating that the public make and wear cloth masks shifts the cost of a public health intervention from society to the individual. In low-resource areas and for persons living in poverty, this is unacceptable. This could be mitigated by public health interventions, with local manufacture and distribution of cloth masks based on materials and design informed by evidence.


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Except develop the habit of wearing a mask. Very much of my training as a soldier relied on developing habits which would keep me alive by practicing them whether they were perceived as needed on not
This is a very good point. It's like keeping the safety on even when you know the gun is unloaded and keeping your finger off the trigger and not pointing the gun at anyone. Hey, it's not loaded, right, so we don't need to follow safety rules, right? Except you follow the rules anyway because that's the smart thing to do.


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Post 1 of 2:
The US concept of individual independence and liberty was
(a) a colonial response to the oppression of the British crown
(b) made possible by the HUGE expanse of land available (for takeover)
ie: your rights, independence and liberty are 100% upheld on your land

BUT once you are in shops, town/cities public areas, hospitals, schools etc.
your rights MUST come 2nd to the groups rights, for better law and order, health and social outcomes

YOUR desire for no masks DOES NOT cancel the next mans rights, for example
YOUR desire for no masks DOES NOT cancel the store owners independence to set his own rules.

This can be demonstrated by looking at the countries that got it (COVID) right

Vietnam, Taiwan, Iceland, New Zealand, Singapore, - “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
1. Agreed. @PhysicsMan refusal to acknowledge that mask mandated works and his continued learn from successes in other countries, is a refusal to pluck the low hanging fruit of a basic pandemic control measures to adopt for the general population.
(a) Mask wearing is a simple, painless measure recommended by the US CDC. There is no point is making it a political issue. Wearing a mask does not prevent a person from going out or his freedom of movement; but it does reduce the amount of virus shed to another (in a short encounter).​
(b) Masks tend to reduce the initial viral load, which leads to less severe cases, which is why although the number of active cases is strongly rising, the number of serious cases and deaths is also falling, yet the virus’s lethality remained the same.​
(c) People who wear masks and still get ill, are getting far less sick, and an increasing number of people are now wearing masks. Thus the mortality rate is falling even as the active cases are increasing.​
(d) Choosing not to wear a mask in a mall, or a shop infringes on the freedom of other shoppers to have some measure of protection from an asymptomatic infected.​

2. Likewise, the US CDC and Federal Govt has powers to lock down due to deadly contagious disease out-break (eg. Ebola virus). The legal framework that applies to CORVID-19 is the same.
(a) If this pandemic had the same death rate (about 7.2% to 15%) as SARS, I can tell you that almost everyone working in the US Healthcare system will favour a lockdown.​
(b) I have a family member who volunteered to work in a SARS ward, during the difficult time when nothing was known about the disease in Singapore. Later, she was thanked by the President at the Istana for her work.​
(c) In Singapore, there were 238 cases and 33 deaths from the SARS outbreak. In other words, more people in Singapore died from SARS than CORVID-19. The government learnt from SARS and applied lessons learnt to this pandemic.​

3. The most important thing in managing a pandemic is clear, coherent, consistent messaging of science based measures from the top. None of that has been present in the US response. Given the poor leadership demonstrated by Trump, over the past year, I am surprised that so few health care workers have abandoned their posts, in the periods when PPE was out of stock, in some US hospitals.
A healthy dose of paranoia is never a bad idea when it comes to your personal freedoms being tampered with. And it calls for deeper scrutiny. What you and others posit as the reason for the spread in US is not very obvious to me. The dynamics of infection spreading in population is very complex, even more so than the notoriously difficult to master weather forecast. It is a multivariable problem and anyone claiming that this or that variable is the reason for this or that should be viewed with a grain of salt. I just came back from Florida and Illinois. Two drastically different approaches. One is similar to California's - obey or be punished, the other is the opposite - no one wears any masks anywhere in public (maybe 10%). Guess what, their Covid rates are similar (per population). Now go ahead and explain that.

Am I saying masks are a bad idea? No, but when governments institute sweeping rules that make no sense in many cases ( as I described earlier) it leaves me wondering if it should be left to the public's sense of self preservation backed up by a solid educational effort instead.
4. What I see from your posts is a refusal to learn from demonstrated competence. While I cannot expect the same level of governmental competence from the USA when compared to Australia, NZ, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, or Singapore — I do not expect to have to repeatedly explain, why some arguments, like those you make, are stupid.

5. In a pandemic, laws and rules are imposed to keep the heath care system working at a level it can cope (to avoid a system wide failure, from a tidal wave of hospitalised infected that overwhelms the state’s hospital system)— if you fail to plan, YOU PLAN TO FAIL. Hospitalizations are also up in 35 states (including DC) from 2 weeks ago. In July / August 2020 about 820,000 new tests were being administered in the US per day, according to the COVID Tracking Project.

US Coronavirus Cases on 4 Dec 2020​

US Coronavirus Deaths:​

6. Given that the USA surpasses 200,000 daily infections, by Feb 2021, you will see healthcare systems totally failing in the more poorly managed states. See: Coronavirus Pandemic Bares U.S. Healthcare Flaws. There is also a healthcare disparity crisis in the USA. The coronavirus pandemic has revealed how broken the American system is. This is the reality Biden will inherit on 20 Jan 2021 — and he will be doing something drastic soon.

They do nothing in many situations where they are still mandated.
Except develop the habit of wearing a mask. Very much of my training as a soldier relied on developing habits which would keep me alive by practicing them whether they were perceived as needed on not

7. The perfect reply to PhysicsMan’s pointless naval gazing (with regard to using the force of law to enforce sensible precautions like mask wearing to reduce the required social distancing space). Study after study, like the one linked below, will show you how badly America is doing. Why are you ignoring the science of pandemic management in favour of more political bullshit?
(a) A study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, highlighted how poorly the US has managed the Covid-19 pandemic — from its woeful death toll to still-high death rates — compared to other wealthy countries.​
(b) On 19 Sep 2020, the US reported a total of 198,589 COVID-19 deaths (60.3/100,000), higher than countries with low and moderate COVID-19 mortality but comparable with high-mortality countries. For instance, Australia (low mortality) had 3.3 deaths per 100,000 and Canada (moderate mortality) had 24.6 per 100,000. And Singapore’s mortality rate is even lower than that of Australia.​
(c) More importantly, is America doing enough to protect its healthcare workers as a country? American healthcare workers cannot operate in a crisis mode for an infinite amount of time. Is wearing a mask, as an individual, as prevention, too much to ask of you?​

8. There is nothing difficult about following the recommendations of the US CDC — don’t be an idiot, wear a mask, wash your hands and keep a distance. It’s not perfect but it can reduce risk. If you claim that masks alone don’t work in certain scenarios and you want to feel better, feel free to wear eye protection, gloves and a N95 mask.
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Post 2 of 2:

9. As others like @cdxbow have noted, how did the most powerful country in the world, years of preparation (including the ignored playbook) and the largest medical science establishment do so badly?

10. Nothing epitomises this more than Americans stupid enough to politicise masks during a once in a century pandemic.

11. If you wrote it as fiction, 5 years ago, people would not believe it.
What exactly is it that's doing the suppressing?

...But like I said, a civilized society must look at how to approach the problem and minimize the attack on personal freedoms. And that means you go beyond a computer program and examine what it is that actually works.

Which government actually bothered to study how infectious the virus is in open air? And if there are studies (which will show what I wrote before), do you think they are being followed by any government? They are not, because no government cares if it's being heavyhanded or not.

...except the definition of "heavyhanded" is different in China, Korea, Australia, and US, that's all.
12. But unlike some parts of the US (where less than 10% wear masks), mask wearing is mandated by laws and ultimately enforced by fines or jail time in Singapore. But this process starts with a request from others to put on a mask. If a person refuses, he or she is often charged with being a public nuisance and other counts of violating CORVID-19 rules. Very often before sentencing, they are given some level of mental health support.
(a) Public education is of course important; but it needs to be augmented by enforceable laws. Building the right culture of compliance (of above 95%) through education, is only one leg of the stool to success in pandemic management.​
(b) Extensive testing, like Korea or Singapore, is the 2nd leg of the stool — which I will explain more in paragraphs 15 to 18 below.​
(c) But the third leg of the stool is the level of compliance with scientific recommendations, to mitigate risk. To get high levels of compliance (above 95%, within 2 to 3 months), you need both laws/rules and public education. Proposing to only rely on public education can only work, if your goal is 95% or greater compliance in 2 to 3 years. That is too slow to stop the coming American Pandemic wave hitting your hospitals in 1Q2021.​
(d) In Singapore, following the recommendations of experts and using epidemiology, the country sought to seek initial results after 11 days, from 7 Apr 2020. As Prime Minister Lee said: “We are working to break the chain of transmission... to reduce the number of new cases,” sharing an article on experts’ stock-take of the measures on Day 11, when it was hoped that positive effects would show. By day 12 — the enhanced measures adopted in Singapore which entailed the closures of non-essential workplaces and schools — saw the first results of success. This was only possible with high compliance levels.​
(e) Lack of compliance in a high risk scenario should be punished. For example, on 13 May 2020, an American commercial pilot who breached a stay order (SHN) in early April was sentenced to four weeks' jail. Brian Dugan Yeargan, 44, who pleaded guilty to an offence under the Infectious Diseases Regulations 2020, arrived in Singapore from Australia on 3 April 2020. He was deported after his sentence.​
Do you have any data to support this? The success of lockdowns/suppression in countries like Singapore, China, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea is not consistent with your view. Simply hand waving the issue away as a multivariate problem ignores the fact that a suppression based strategy involving the temporary sacrifice of personal freedoms has been demonstrably effective in a variety of countries and contexts.

Rather, it strikes me that the failure to implement suppression early, widely and decisively enough is what has gotten other nations (like the US) into trouble. The genie is out of the bottle, hence the difficulty now being faced.
13. @Boagrius also makes an effective argument that PhysicsMan is being difficult — in his posts. In a diverse range of countries that includes Singapore, wearing of masks is mandated. For Singapore, it is mandated in any public transport, in every mall, in every shop and in every hair dresser. The country has come out of our circuit breaker with the pandemic under control and a over strength contact tracing department.

14. With a single digit infection rate, in Singapore, there is little or no contact tracing work to be done (that we have let the extra army manpower mobilised take a step back from this role) and it is fully civilian led. With 1 in 5 residents of Singapore tested, we look at US testing efforts as a shambolic failure to plan of epic proportions.

15. To give you an idea of how science helps, Singapore has coated most lift buttons with a compound that does not allow any virus to linger. Everyone has been given free masks by the government. Before pre-school child care was reopened, the country tested every child care provider before they reopened — to close off a risk, as it was a source of spread. I say again — ALL CHILD CARE staff in the country — was tested. The country took numerous extreme but calculated measures to break the chain of spread. It requires a level of competence that the American state governments cannot hope to achieve.

16. That’s how we moved from over 1,400 new cases a day, at the peak in April to about 1/3 of the numbers in May. The fall to about 500 per day in May was the 1st sign of success and it is almost nothing in December. Mask wearing and increasing testing capacity, is just a small part of the complete picture, for mitigation of spread (reducing the R0).

17. Testing effectiveness is not just about the absolute number of tests but how it routinely is being done for targeted groups, like essential workers, like bus drivers, train drivers, police, fire men, air traffic controllers, harbour pilots, immigration staff, prisons officers, health care workers and so on, in Singapore. So the story is not just about masks in a population of 6.5 million, it’s about onion layers of protection. If one fails, what is the next risk mitigation measure.

Total number of deaths in Singapore as at 3 Dec 2020​
29 out of 58,230 infected
Number of Swabs Tested (as of 30 Nov 2020)​
Average Daily Number Of Swabs Tested Over The Past Week in Singapore​
Total Unique Persons Swabbed per million vs Total Population in Singapore​
18. From Sep onwards, 95% to 99% of Singapore’s new CORVID-19 cases come from returning Singaporeans from abroad. Upon entry they are tested and serve a SHN in a hotel before being granted their freedom. Singapore manages this risk from our returnees through masks and hand washing, as they come through immigration and are sent to their assigned hotel for 14 days.

19. Things are not like 2019 but it is close to normal in Singapore. Last nite, I went out to drink wine in a restaurant that practiced social distancing between groups of clients and no more than 5 to a group in Singapore. Everyone wore a mask, scanned a QR code to aid contact tracing, and had their temperature taken, to enter the premises. You are not allowed to remove your masks until food is served.

20. And then we discover 1 community case and the contact tracers are working at full speed — to notify and serve SHN to everyone in close contact and affected — in 72 hours, every close contact who shows symptoms are tested. To enter any shop or mall, you scan a QR code to aid contact tracing. As everyone is wearing masks, except at meals or outdoor exercise, the risk of exposure to Singaporeans even in malls and lifts is being managed.
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@PhysicsMan Just to reinforce @OPSSG and others post, we here in New Zealand have gone for eradication in the general population and we have have achieved that. The only cases that we have are imported cases and all of those are in our Managed Isolation Quarantine Facilities. You cannot enter New Zealand unless you have proof of a booking to those facilities before you board your aircraft to fly here. No proof, no flight and I believe Australia has the same rules.

See here in Australia and NZ we actually care about the health and well-being of others besides those outside our families. So in situations like this we knuckle down and do whatever it takes to get the job done because we look out for our mates even if we don't know their names. We might whinge a bit now and again about it, but we get on and do it because it's what we do. We look after our mates and they look after us. We understand individuals freedoms and the rights, but we also know responsibilities that are associated with those rights. Many of our people have died protecting those rights and lie in foreign fields never to return to their home.

So don't you dare come in here preaching your ignorant bullshit about socalled freedoms and what not. You don't have a clue what other people have gone through. For your information Kiwis and Aussies have more freedoms than the much vaunted freedoms of the USA. We also live in more democratic nations, so your claims about freedoms and democracy don't ring quite so true. Pull your head in sunshine and wake up. The world is far greater than the Disuntited States of America and it's time that you and some of your compatriots learned that.
First of all, I do not lower myself to emotional ramblings and insults (both personal and nationality based), and I suggest the participants in the conversation do the same. Let's keep the discussion civilized.

Based on these responses, there is confusion about what I was arguing for and against. For one thing, it was repeatedly insinuated that the motives behind my logic are politics driven. I can see how that may be easy to assume given how heavily it is indeed politicised in US (and beyond). There is zero of that in my arguments. I despise politics, I do not have any political affiliations or leanings, and I've never voted in my life.

I realize that there is a tendency (given the nature of the forum) of people on here to lean towards conformism, leading to some differences in mindset with mine. I am, first and foremost, a scientist, and as such I question norms, rules, and laws - especially when my competency allows me to do so intelligently. With that in mind, I want to remind that I never questioned the overall concept of government-led management of the crisis, to which such a large volume of writing was devoted in the responses. I do not have either the knowledge, or the expertise to claim how effective or ineffective overall strategies in any particular place are, the complexity of pandemics is beyond my competence - and for this reason I had to raise my eyebrows reading how confident people get in their conviction that they understand this complexity enough to pass such strong verdicts on here. It may be tempting to draw some strong conclusions based on available data but I caution against that. If you leave aside for a moment the topic of the clearly so intensely despised current US administration, answers to why there are the observed variations in levels of the pandemic througout the world should not be as simple as "this or that government is doing it better". Whether you like it or not, the problem is indeed very complex and not well understood at all. There are so many variables at play. Comparing the situation in a tiny equatorial island to that in a third of a billion population country should be done with a LOT of caution - as an example.

What I do have a problem with is what's repeatedly referred to on here as "sensible precautions" that are used to fight the pandemic. I don't know how different life is in Singapore but it is very much different for me in California. The freedom of movement is restricted - vast varieties of outdoor life are restricted or forbidden, curfews on being outside your home at certain times are instituted, mask wearing mania makes people aggressive towards those that do not follow it. There is talk of following science on here. Well, here is a person of this exact science, telling you that everything just mentioned is complete bullshit. Contraction of virus outdoors in vast majority of outdoors situations cannot happen in statistically relevant numbers (everyone is welcome to provide studies saying otherwise). In central Tokyo? Maybe. But not here. And I don't think people in power make that distinction much when they act "in accord with science".

Everyone is welcome to obediently accept all actions of their governments as "for their own good". I do not. And, yes, it is one of the fundamental things I've learned to do as a citizen of this country, and I am grateful to it for that.


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@PhysicsMan You claim to answer as a scientist but if you follow the scientific method your analysis should include that there are other probabilities besides your own narrow hypothesis. You are basing your argument solely on one narrow field, when in fact COVID-19 infection crosses many disciplines, from epidemiology through to geography, through to fluid dynamics. It cannot be looked at in isolation with in one discipline, because if anything that this little bugger has taught us, is that it's very cunning.

Therefore I would suggest that your methodology is flawed because it excludes the meso and macro scale analysis that is required to fully explore your reasoning and whether or not you actually have reached a valid conclusion. If you undertake such an analysis I think that you may find that the possibility exists that your original reasoning was incorrect.

Your complaint that poster's here have resorted to emotional ramblings and are being political about it is somewhat unfounded. We have not bought politics into it, and your dismissal of Singapore will not go down to well with Singaporean Moderator as it hasn't with this Kiwi Moderator.

We have seen posters come and go with similar rhetoric to you. On here we see that as political because of the rhetoric that has been used in the US for the last decade or so. We are an international forum not a US centric one and at the moment only have one active US Moderator, although the Webmaster is US as well. So far you have managed to annoy two of the three grumpiest Moderators on here, so I would step very carefully if I were you.
There is no dismissal in what I said. I stated the fact of the island being tiny (and equatorial) - and not with any negative connotations whatsoever but for a reason - to highlight that potentially important factors in a virus spread include ease of managing population, enforcability of rules, cultural coherence, population density - all of which depend on size to varying degrees; and temperature and humidity of the air (aerosol droplet lifetime is highly dependent on those, plus virus survivability also depends on temperature).
And in regards to my analysis (more like a statement based on understanding of aerosols). Yes, COVID19 crosses many disciplines and cannot be looked from only one of those, absolutely. But what I was addressing was very specific - ability to spread it in open outdoor environments by proximity, and this particular threat (one of many to consider) does concern first and foremost my knowledge. The virus is spread through the air only in droplet form (some other viruses can be spread without water), so I can rely on the knowledge of behavior/propagation of droplets as necessary for any air transmission to exist. So unless there is any doubt about the virus spreading through water droplets only (which I am not aware of) my reliance on this knowledge is sufficient to draw conclusions.


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There is no dismissal in what I said. I stated the fact of the island being tiny (and equatorial) - and not with any negative connotations whatsoever but for a reason - to highlight that potentially important factors in a virus spread include ease of managing population, enforcability of rules, cultural coherence, population density - all of which depend on size to varying degrees; and temperature and humidity of the air (aerosol droplet lifetime is highly dependent on those, plus virus survivability also depends on temperature).
And in regards to my analysis (more like a statement based on understanding of aerosols). Yes, COVID19 crosses many disciplines and cannot be looked from only one of those, absolutely. But what I was addressing was very specific - ability to spread it in open outdoor environments by proximity, and this particular threat (one of many to consider) does concern first and foremost my knowledge. The virus is spread through the air only in droplet form (some other viruses can be spread without water), so I can rely on the knowledge of behavior/propagation of droplets as necessary for any air transmission to exist. So unless there is any doubt about the virus spreading through water droplets only (which I am not aware of) my reliance on this knowledge is sufficient to draw conclusions.
If you had cited any relevant scientific literature to support your position whatsoever I would be more sympathetic, but you haven't. Your attempt to vaguely condense the problem down to an issue of aerosol behaviour ignores the role of things like fomites, the capacity for masks to withhold and limit viral shedding from the wearer(s) and the broader issues associated with eliciting disease controlling behaviour from an often uncooperative population.

If your position is "scientific" (as you claim) then by all means start citing some science. In the mean time the US has lost a quarter of a million people (and counting) to this disease, while there are a multitude of other countries that have barely been touched by it even in relative terms. You would have to be an idiot (or just willfully ignorant) not to look to their responses for insight.


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Post 1 of 3: Poor leadership provided by people like Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts’ via his state’s pandemic policies will get more people killed
...Your attempt to vaguely condense the problem down to an issue of aerosol behaviour ignores the role of things like fomites, the capacity for masks to withhold and limit viral shedding from the wearer(s) and the broader issues associated with eliciting disease controlling behaviour from an often uncooperative population.

If your position is "scientific" (as you claim) then by all means start citing some science...

You would have to be an idiot (or just willfully ignorant) not to look to their responses for insight.
1. Agreed. I can’t wait for 20 Jan 2021, when the adults are in charge once again; and see a mask mandate hopefully implemented at federal level. If @PhysicsMan:
(a) ignores the recommendation of an infectious disease physician, Dr. Jasmine Marcelin, MD, FACP, as a subject matter expert (see para 7 below);​
(b) ignores all medial evidence by peddling a point of view that adopts a political position, contrary to medical advice); and​
(c) favours what Pato called doxa over episteme (which is a poisoned legacy of Trump’s administration for America), then he should be challenged. Episteme is a philosophical term that refers to a principled system of understanding; or scientific knowledge. As a forum, we must value true knowledge over unsourced opinion, and reality over fantasy.​

2. It’s now required that everyone in California must wear a mask or face covering when outside of their home. In a pandemic, what @PhysicsMan chooses to do or don't do affects everyone, in his home state health system, in California. If he refuses to mask-up, at a personal responsibility level, he will eventually get infected; and thus add to the spread of CROVID-19. This is a concern as his state's ICU capacity is starting to run short.

3. On 3 Dec 2020, Los Angeles County reached a tragic record of cases with an astonishing 7,854 new cases reported on that 1 day.
(a) Following the above grim statistic, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new regional stay-at-home order for the state to counter rising coronavirus cases, Los Angeles County health officials said that the looming shutdown could hit the battered region within days.​
(b) “The anticipation is that threshold might be reached sometime early next week,” Dr. Christina Ghaly declared today of the order that kicks in once ICU capacity falls below 15% in specific regions of the Golden State. “It would be the Southern California region that would reach that threshold, not Los Angeles County alone,” added the area’s Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis in a clarification after Health Services Director Ghaly spoke.​
(c) Given the above trends, Southern California will go into lockdown before Biden is inaugurated as President on 20 Jan 2021.​

4. While there are idiotic politicians who refuse to implement a mask mandate, there are others who are sensible, like Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina or Gov. Henry McMaster of South Carolina, who is sensible but lacks the courage to reimpose earlier measures that expired.
(a) Gov. Roy Cooper released a statement on Twitter over the weekend that said in part the state was examining what additional measures could be taken to slow the spread of the virus. Cooper also emphasized the need for North Carolinians to wear masks and follow the safety measures already in place, most notably the three W's: wear, wait, and wash. On Nov. 10, the indoor-gathering limit was reduced to 10 people.​
(b) North Carolina's new record brings the two-week average daily cases up above 4,000. That means the state is averaging roughly twice the new infections each day that it was during its previous peak viral spread back in July. With 95% of hospitals reporting, the state has hit another record of COVID-19 hospitalizations with 2,191. In total, 5,543 North Carolinians have died from the virus.​
(c) South Carolina's new record brings the two-week average daily cases up above 2,000.​

5. On Nov 2020, Nebraska marked its 9th straight week of record new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The weekly tally works out to an average of more than 1,500 new cases a day in Nebraska.

6. Not only has the Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts, repeatedly resisted calls for mandatory mask-wearing in his state (a position that puts him at odds with the recommendations of CDC and the WHO), in June, he informed local government officials that they will not qualify for federal coronavirus funds unless they do not mandate the wearing of masks while they're inside government facilities.

7. The podcast below with a Nebraska infectious disease physician, Dr. Jasmine Marcelin, MD, FACP, makes the argument to take preventable measures, including following the CDC recommendation to mask up and avoiding large gatherings (as a measure that an individual can adopt) and asks her state leadership to have the courage to do the right thing in a pandemic (aka provide leadership). With the numbers of hospitalisations doubling every 14 to 21 days, no state health system can cope with such increases.

8. Forced to step-in due to the lack of leadership at state level and ignoring Ricketts' stupidity, a slew of Nebraska towns and cities have passed mask mandates this includes the cities of Lincoln, Omaha, Norfolk, Beatrice, Kearney, Wahoo, Grand Island, York, La Vista, Gretna, Columbus, Ralston and Hastings. Nebraska has allocated US$100m for reimbursements to local governments for direct expenses incurred in response to the CORVID-19 pandemic.
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Post 2 of 3: Shining a light on lazy thinking
Governments treat their people as mindless herds by the blanket rules requiring anything from mandatory masks all the time everywhere (like in California now) to curfews on outdoors presence to closing hiking in natural parks. And the less the government repects an individual as a rational being the more of these regulations you get.

...In my opinion, not by instituting obedience laws, but by encouraging personal responsibility and educating on the issue. Such as the mask wearing thing...

...I am sure most people on here, just like most people in general, do not realize how little effectiveness they provide in 90% of normal life situations...

...Aerosols behave very differently depending on the size, dropping to the ground like little rocks when the size is above a dozen of micron or so (the larger the droplets the more infectious) and present no danger to anyone who is further than a meter away. The smaller stuff behaves pretty much like cigarette smoke, which means that outdoors it almost instantly dissipates from the source to very low concentrations which are insufficient to cause a transmission and, again, present no danger to anyone further than a meter from the infected...

...Plus, this smaller aerosol that is carried by air flows is far smaller than the pore sizes of most masks, such as the surgical ones or anything from cloth, and will go through them like knife through butter. The bottom line is, mandating masks outdoors at all times is ignorant idiocy, and the data suggests as much. Presumably, over 90% of all infections are caused by less than 10% of the infected, essentially meaning that the transmission predominantly happens during superspreading events, like the one mentioned above. So, wouldn't it be more reasonable to limit the regulations to address such superspreading events and not go full retard California style and ban everything? Banning hiking? Tennis courts? Curfews? Closed National Forests? It is a disgrace and an embarassment how they treat people...
9. People like Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, Nebraska Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts and President Donald Trump, who ignore his advisors’ guidance on pandemic management, generally have no problem calling others stupid, while behaving badly themselves (but often defending their lazy stance, couched in the language of personal liberty).
(a) This forum encourages sophisticated and in-depth discussions to listen to good ideas and at times to debunk bad ideas — I’ll let others in this forum judge — who is misinterpreting the data and ignoring science — and who is using data to illuminate this discussion.​
(b) IMHO, American mask mandates by itself is insufficient to stop the spread at this stage of the pandemic cycle. In other posts in this thread, there are real world examples given on how smart governments have deployed multiple measures to get COVID-19 under control, in a matter of weeks, rather than in months. They can work, if they are drastic enough.​
(c) But for a population to agree to drastic measures, there needs to be significant efforts at public education — on the known guidelines on pandemic management — while having the political courage to implement tough measures for the greater good (which is really an art).​
One of the problems is that early on, the method of transmission was not known or understood. It was gradually realized that there was a respiratory component, but that too was thought to be droplet transmission and that the infection could not be aersolized...

...What is known to occur, though the reasons are not known, is that some people, for some reason, tend to expel a greater amount of fine matter than others. This 'greater amount' is usually orders of magnitude greater. One of the early 'superspreader' events in the US, which was a church choir practice in WA state IIRC, mentioned the potential for fine matter to have been circulated during the practice.
The point is simple. I don't want to do stupid things my government makes me do.
10. In a speech on 9 Nov 2020, Biden implored Americans to stop politicizing masks and social distancing. The main man has spoken and said:
"Please, I implore you, wear a mask," the President-elect said. "Do it for yourself, do it for your neighbor. A mask is not a political statement but it is a way to start pulling the country together."​

11. During the campaign, Biden spoke of his plan to issue a nationwide mask mandate. Doing so could be challenged in court, though, and in October Biden said he would go to every governor and urge them to issue mask mandates — studies show that public health measures like mask mandates work to prevent infections and hospitalizations.

12. IMO, the reason why some Americans still feel that masks are optional, reflects on failures at two levels that are mutually reinforcing. One, there is the failure of Trump’s leadership, in pandemic management, at the federal level; and two, a failure of public education efforts, very often at state and city level.

13. It warms my heart that President-elect Joe Biden called and recognized @Cleavon_MD (Dr. Gilman). Dr. Gilman has not only been on the front line fighting this pandemic, but has painstakingly shared an inside picture of what’s happening.

14. In related news, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the US National Institutes of Health, (who has emerged as a leading US public health expert during the COVID-19 pandemic), has been asked to serve as Biden’s chief medical adviser.

15. Biden said: “I asked him to stay on in the exact same role as he’s had for the past several presidents, and I asked him to be a chief medical adviser for me as well and be part of the COVID team.”

16. Dr. Anthony Fauci warns "it's not going to be a light switch" back to normalcy even when a Covid-19 vaccine becomes available to the public. In fact, Fauci recommends people still wear masks and practice social distancing even after getting the vaccine, he told CNN.
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Post 3 of 3: What Santelli’s rant and PhysicsMan’s Posts have in common: Confirmation Bias

17. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said on 29 Nov 2020 that the U.S. is heading into a difficult period of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • He said current restrictions and travel advisories will be necessary for the Christmas holiday season.
  • While the CDC warned people against traveling for Thanksgiving, more than 9 million people traveled in airports running up to and after the holiday.
  • Fauci said Americans should take their own virus mitigation steps in order to help overwhelmed hospital systems.
18. “We're getting those staggering numbers of new cases and hospitalizations before we even feel the full brunt of the Thanksgiving holiday," Fauci said on 7 Dec 2020. Health experts warned before the holiday that Americans should gather virtually rather than risk exposure.

19. People are going indoors, they're not minding the three W's," Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar told Fox News' Chris Wallace on Sunday. "Our advice is always the same. Wash your hands, watch your distance, wear face coverings." Health experts have long warned that the holiday season would bring a spike in coronavirus cases as people increasingly gather indoors.

20. Everyone has faced a steep learning curve since the onset of the pandemic, but we know some things with certainty — thanks to expertise, experience and tragic losses — about how Covid-19 spreads and how to help stem its expansion. As Faye Flam has noted, scientists generally agree that the greatest risk for contracting the coronavirus resides anywhere there is close contact, closed spaces and crowds. It follows that avoiding such places or encounters, particularly if talking, shouting, singing, sneezing or coughing are part of the mix, is sensible. A bigger space with more ventilation, less close contact and less talking or shouting certainly seems safer than the alternative when considering the risk of contracting Covid-19.

21. Santelli’s rant also highlights a phenomenon psychologists call “motivated reasoning” or “confirmation bias.” A predilection for cherry-picking facts that conform to your view of the world and ignoring those that don’t is something all of us do.

22. It is unfortunate that Trump’s most enduring legacy for America—is a nihilistic political culture, one that is tribalistic, distrustful, and sometimes delusional, swimming in conspiracy theories. The result is that Americans are disoriented and frustrated, fearful of and often enraged at one another. Trump didn’t invent misinformation and disinformation; they have been around for much of human history — Trump by virtue of his considerable skills in this area, aided by social media and capitalizing on “truth decay” and diminishing trust in sources of factual information— exploited them more effectively than anyone else has in American history.

23. It is in the above light that I see PhysicsMan’s posts in this thread. It does not matter that he did not vote for Trump. What matters is record numbers of Americans came out to vote for a conman; and even when he lost the elections, they refuse to accept it.

24. As part of this dysfunctional American political culture, much like Trump’s supporters, PhysicsMan attempts to reframe logical and temporary pandemic control measures as an assault on his liberty in a tribalistic manner, and he speaks in total disregard for the health of his fellow man.
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John Fedup

The Bunker Group
The sad fact is you have significant mentally feeble people group incapable of analyzing proven solutions, and a politically poisonous court system fuelling the spread of this virus. A working vaccine is the best hope for the US, assuming the anti-vaccine lobby doesn’t derail the program, probably wishful thinking.
I will start with a general formula for probability (of infection in this case):

Pinf = 1 − exp(−ρV /Ninf), []

Where P is the probability, ρV is the virion load, Ninf is the infectious load (probability that’s considered sufficient to trigger infection). What this means is that once ρV starts getting close to Ninf the probability of infection becomes high, and reversely, falls off very rapidly once below it.

For respiratory infections (Covid-19 included) Ninf is ~1000 virions. []

Next, let’s look at the virion production rate in an aerosol emitted by a) breathing,) talking, c) sneezing (increasing in that order): []

  • Breathing: ~1000 (virions per min)
  • Talking: ~10000
  • Sneezing: ~1000000
Having determined the values for both ρV and Ninf in the above formula we can now look at what ρV looks like in an outdoor setting. For this we need to consider the mechanisms for aerosol density dissipation. There are two such mechanisms in play here: 1) gravitational settling, 2) air convection (air movement caused by breathing/sneezing and general air movement aka wind).

Gravitational settling velocity for a droplet is governed by the following equation:

V=(Dexp2)*ρ*g*/18µ, []

where D is the droplet diameter, ρ is its density, g gravitational constant, µ is air viscosity. This is valid below 20 micron size, above that size the velocity is superlinear in Dexp2, meaning it increases more rapidly with D than in the formula. Plugging the numbers in, here are some values:

V[1 µm]=0.045mm/s; V[10 µm]=4mm/s, V[50 µm]>90mm/s, V[100 µm]>350mm/s

What this means is that droplets below ~10 µm do not experience gravitational settling outdoors -random air movements completely overwhelm their settling velocity and the droplets simply follow the air stream they are in. Droplets between ~10 µm and ~30 µm display intermediate behavior with settling velocities of about 25cm-2.5m per minute. Those above these values settle rapidly, hitting ground within several seconds.

Now I will go over aerosol size distributions measured while talking and sneezing - two worst case scenarios (talking is worse than breathing with a similar distribution, and sneezing is worse than coughing with a similar distribution).

[Characterizations of particle size distribution of the droplets exhaled by sneeze ] deploys Spraytec, a highly accurate measurement device for determining the statistical size distributions of aerosols. I’ve used it for years with very reproducible results. Referring to figures 2 and 3, both showing the distributions of sneezes (apparently there are two kinds of sneezes, with one producing a single mode/peak, second producing two). I will look at Fig.3 as it represents the worse scenario than Fig.2 (as explained below).

These graphs show the percentage of different droplet sizes in the aerosol, as determined by their volume fraction – which determines the viral load. From Fig 3, droplets range from ~25 µm to several mms in size, and those above 30 µm constitute ~99.7% of the entire volume – settling down to the ground within seconds – a segment having no infectious potential outside of immediate vicinity of the sneezer, within less than several seconds.

The remaining ~0.3% linger around for a longer time. The typical spread of aerosol during a sneeze is depicted here: [Details - Public Health Image Library(PHIL)]
It can be approximated as a cone with a 50-80 degree solid angle (angle increasing with growing distance). For a more strict scenario, let’s assume a constant 45 degree solid angle. That means that a foot from the mouth the density drops from 100% to ~1% (assuming a 1inch mouth opening during a sneeze) and to ~0.25% at 2 feet. Plugging in the viral production rate of a sneeze with 1 million virions, we get a total ~30 virions of the lingering droplets produced by one sneeze one foot away from the source at time zero (dissipating to lower values after that). The critical load for an infection is 1000 virions. That means that after the large droplets settle within several seconds, one has to come into the 1 foot circle of the source and inhale around 30 sneezes within a minute to get infected with high probability – assuming they all linger around (no ambient air movement). To conclude, the only realistic scenario of getting infected from sneezing is remaining indoors for an extended period, when droplets keep accumulating in an enclosed volume of a room. Even if we relax the Ninf value by ten times, to 100, one still needs to inhale 3 sneezes within a minute, within a foot of the source in order to get infected with high probability (reminder, these calculations exclude the largest droplets, >~30 µm, which means they exclude the direct hits of a high speed sneeze right into your face).

Next, let’s move to aerosols due to talking, as they have a very different size distribution. As illustrated in [Characterizations of particle size distribution of the droplets exhaled by sneeze], Fig.5, blue triangles (worst case scenario again), the distribution centers around 5 µm. As it closely follows a Gaussian distribution we can approximate the volume of droplets below ~30 µm to be around 70% of the total (see [A Guide to Particle Size Distribution Weighting - What Was Measured and What It Means] for illustration, first figure) – these, again, are the droplets to worry about beyond the initial several seconds of generation). Assuming the same solid angle of propagation as with sneezing (although in reality it is significantly wider than for sneezing due to low speed of propagation), one gets around 70 virions produced per minute a foot away from the talking mouth. While this concentration can potentially go up in time within a stagnant air room, it only goes down in an open air environment, leading to this conclusion: in order to get infected with high probability one must remain within a foot of a non-stop talking infected person for longer than ~14 minutes. Relaxing Ninf to (unrealistic) 100, one still must be within that foot for longer than around a minute and a half. And, again, this assumes the idealistic scenario with no air movement (aka wind) at all. Any slightest whiff would drop these numbers precipitously, as anyone who’s ever seen cigarette smoke can understand.

And that’s all folks. Welcome to the real science of Covid transmission.


The Bunker Group
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I will start with a general formula for probability (of infection in this case):

<SNIP - massive amount of babble>

And that’s all folks. Welcome to the real science of Covid transmission.
What you have posted is the classic example of a "Straw Man" argument. This diversion from the thread started with several members noting that masks don't guarantee the non-transmission of COVID but do reduce the likelihood.

No-one claimed them perfect, but we still get the full demonstration thrashing that poor old bale of hay.

It's entirely irrelevant that it doesn't always work and all the maths in the world won't change the practical effects. Together with distancing and hygiene they remain a part of the best practice response because they reduce the number of infections, not eliminate them.

Even your first quoted reference comes to the conclusion that wearing masks is beneficial, to the wearer, and to those they might encounter.



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What you have posted is the classic example of a "Straw Man" argument. This diversion from the thread started with several members noting that masks don't guarantee the non-transmission of COVID but do reduce the likelihood...
Even your first quoted reference comes to the conclusion that wearing masks is beneficial, to the wearer, and to those they might encounter.

1. @PhysicsMan is taking about how to calculate the physics of aerosol movement by rate and volume. As he also admits, the data he presents is NOT virological–epidemiological in nature. I hold the view that we should not only read scientific journals and articles, but learn from other members here. IMO, he is a subject matter expert in aerosol movement that we can learn from (but he is not an expert in the virological–epidemiological field).

2. @oldsig127, appreciate you effort catching the straw man. Both sides of the arguments are consistent with PhysicsMan’s discussions on face masks and coverings offering limited protection indoors, if the ventilation is bad. But that also does not change the fact that:
(i) the wearing of masks is among the 3Ws recommended by American medial experts in the field of epistemology including by the CDC (and experts can make mistakes, which is why there is peer review of papers published).​
(ii) the wearing of masks reduces the amount of particles and distance traveled in the surrounding area, when a person wears them; and​
(iii) these is a good reason why all members in an operating theatre wear masks (when they operate a patient, as an infection control measure). Keeping in mind that they are in an enclosed room.​

3. Over time, peer-review will provided the basis for continuous Popperian–Lakatosian criticism on published CORVID-19 studies (see also A Critique of Popper’s Views on Scientific Method). At least in theory, peer review provides a scientific quality badge to information.
(i) Both peer review and editing processes take time, which we do not have in the current CORVID-19 pandemic. Hundred of studies are either published in preprint repositories or submitted to fast-track peer review.​
(ii) This obviously means loosening the critical parameters, a choice of speed over rigor. That trend is totally in accordance with Lakato’s predicted privileges for progressive programs. However, it requires a permanent critical attitude from the readers and a constant state of alert in the scientific community.​

5. The US is responding to the same pandemic as Australia, South Korea, Singapore and NZ, but you would hardly know it. In the US magical thinking and the elevation of individual freedom above the public good has squandered precious time. In common with the US, on 5 Dec 2020, Japan has had a mini-surge of more than 2,400 new CORVID-19 cases of infections were reported across the country the same day, while the number of those with severe symptoms surpassed 500 for the first time.
(i) Singapore after some initial success, had a second wave hit. In Dec 2020, the country has just finished fighting against a second wave of CORVID-19 infections from Apr 2020 that saw infections rise to 1,426 coronavirus cases per day — likewise the Australians and Kiwis set an example that shows the response to a pandemic needs to be strict.​
(ii) If we let our guard down, a country can easily be hit by a third wave — just as in the case of South Korea, which they are now fighting. With 583 new coronavirus infections, Seoul launched unprecedented curfews on Saturday, shuttering most establishments and shops at 9 pm for 2 weeks and cutting back public transportation operations. Tighter restrictions are a blow to Asia's fourth-largest economy, which reported a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 4.2% in Oct 2020.​
(iii) Lives and a nation’s economy hang in the balance. In the article cited by @DDG38, Abby Bloom wrote: “the response needs to be evidence-based. Precise. Coordinated. Thorough. Caring. Impartial. Transparent. Legally enacted and enforced. Strongly led and clearly communicated. Tough. Really tough. Because that’s what it takes to control a pandemic.” But I do admit my agreement with Abby Bloom could be my “confirmation bias.”​
(iv) In conclusion, COVID-19 responses does not require consensus. Instead a review of best of breed is enough. Taking criticism in the right spirit is perhaps the most precious principle of scientific thinking and practice. By submitting the role of science in responding to COVID-19 to the scrutiny of leading critics of mainstream science, we not only vaccinate our community against nihilistic arguments but also reinforce the human value of research activity.​

6. But I caution that research and scientific criticism must be exercised aiming to collaborate with public policies and avoiding messages of uncertainty and insecurity to the already sufficiently frightened population.
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