Good Masks Are Critical, But How Do You Find Them?

Mish

Recent evidence suggesting most Covis-19 transmission happens from pre-symptomatic individuals. This makes masks critical.

But how do you find a good mask?

US Exported Good Masks to China

In January and February US manufacturers exported millions of face masks and other vital medical supplies to China, according to the Washington Post.

It's safe to assume those were good masks.

F.D.A. Approves KN95 Masks From China

On April 3, the New York Times reported F.D.A. to Allow Use of KN95 Masks Approved by China.

The masks are almost identical in performance to the N95 masks that hospitals and other institutions are struggling to find.

The F.D.A. said KN95 masks were eligible for authorization if they met certain criteria, including documentation that they were authentic.

Almost Identical?

Let's investigate the meaning of "almost" and "authentic".

Low-Quality Masks Infiltrate U.S. Coronavirus Supply

On may 3, the Wall Street Journal reported Low-Quality Masks Infiltrate U.S. Coronavirus Supply.

Key Findings

  • Tests by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that about 60% of 67 different types of imported masks tested allowed in more tiny particles in at least one sample than U.S. standards normally permit.
  • One mask that Niosh tested, sold in packaging bearing unauthorized Food and Drug Administration logos, filtered out as little as 35% of particles. Another, marked KN95, a Chinese standard similar to N95, had one sample test below 15%, far short of the 95% it advertised.
  • Officials in Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts and Missouri said they found many imported masks failed quality tests.
  • Gregory Rutledge, an MIT professor, said his lab tested more than 40 masks in the Massachusetts stockpile that claimed to be made to China’s KN95 standard. He found only a third performed comparably to certified N95s.

Ear Loops

Lawrence General Hospital in Massachusetts said it had distributed part of a batch of Chinese-made masks using ear loops from its stock, before seeing a Niosh alert that the masks weren’t up to the American N95 standard their label suggested.

Miscalculation at Every Level Left U.S. Unequipped to Fight Coronavirus

Please consider Miscalculation at Every Level Left U.S. Unequipped to Fight Coronavirus

The U.S. government focused more on preparing for terrorism than for a pandemic. Despite the severe 2009 flu, the government lacked a permanent budget to buy protective medical gear for its Strategic National Stockpile of supplies for health emergencies.

The Trump administration further weakened the safety net as it rejiggered the Health and Human Services Department’s main emergency-preparedness agency, prioritized other threats over pandemics, cut out groups such as one that focused on protective gear and removed a small planned budget to buy respirator masks for the national stockpile, according to former officials.

The N95 story reveals failures of readiness at every level.

Three-Point Synopsis 

  1. Trump did not take the pandemic threat seriously.
  2. At the outset of the crisis, the US exported millions of good masks to China.
  3. Then in a panic need for masks, the FDA lowered quality standards and imported millions of bad masks from China.

That is how "almost identical" (except they don't work) masks get into widespread use in US hospitals.

Where Do You Find Them?

Q: Where do you find the good ones? 

A: Sorry, I don't know

If they attach on the ears, they are not approved. If they are from China, they are also suspect.

Amazon Search

An Amazon search of N95 masks bring up many items that are: "Currently unavailable.  We don't know when or if this item will be back in stock. .... Prioritized for organizations on the frontlines responding to COVID-19."

There are numerous masks that attach behind the ears but those "almost identical" are not N95. 

Finder.Com has a supplier, Canopus, labeling masks with ear loops as N95. Beware.

Mish

Comments (70)
No. 1-38
Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

Lab tests at the University of South Florida show that virus is airborne for up to 5 minutes.

wootendw
wootendw

N95s were available last week at Crest grocery store in Norman, OK. $6/ea. Box of 10 for $60.

numike
numike

What Are The Best Materials for Making DIY Masks? https://postimg.cc/DSMRGjKY

psalm876
psalm876

Asymptomatic infection vectors were documented in mid February. I'm glad you are finally up to speed on this one Mr. Scarpino!

Stuki
Stuki

Wonder if there are sufficient records of masks used at various institutions, to indicate whether the lab measured differences have had any measurable real world effects on medical staff infection rates. Or if everything has been so scrambled that it is all jumbled together.

I suppose it would be a bit too much to ask, to expect the Chinese to look into whether practitioners given US N95s, fared better than those who got locally produced KN95s. Or at least to expect them to let Trump know, even if internal studies indicated that did turn out to be the case.....

gregggg
gregggg

I remember the 3 micron rule for N95s, but new chinese look alikes generate $. The masks dictated by state governors are known to be nearly ineffective, but they are now being used to easily pick out the non-obedient citizens... the low hanging fruit. Fines = revenue.

TimeToTest
TimeToTest

Spending money on invisible threats instead of the things that can really destroy the economy.

That’s the real problem here. I expect China to do what they have done.

tokidoki
tokidoki

As opposed to Taiwan, Vietname and South Korea i.e. they very quickly banned the export of masks.

But no, this is the fault of the Chinese. America can NOT do wrong.

Augustthegreat
Augustthegreat

Mish: do you know where the great american masks are manufactured? Just a few weeks ago you were against wearing masks. Why suddenly you become paranoiac about it?

Zardoz
Zardoz

So we've got The Walking Dumb to contend with, and they're not just threatening people any more. I know second hand of a battery with injury incident over the same thing.

People are so goddamn selfish and entitled.

soupcon
soupcon

N95 masks are only worthwhile if they fit. As a retired RN, I was "fit tested" for an N95 mask. Because of the shape of the face, not all masks fit all people. Unless there is a good seal, an N95 mask will not filter properly as airborne viruses can enter where there is no seal.

DBG8489
DBG8489

Air finds the path of least resistance. Any ill-fitting mask (nearly all surgical masks) will allow your exhaled air - and any virus you might be shedding -to escape around the edges unimpeded.

Furthermore, many - if not most - of the masks I see being worn are not even surgical masks. They are basically inbound filters. They have a little rubber exhaust valve designed to allow air to pass easily out of the mask because they are designed to protect the user from inhaling particulates in the air around them. They aren't designed to protect anyone else but the wearer. You'd be better off with a pair of panties or a jock strap on your face.

Furthermore, it's downright hilarious and infuriating at the same time to see all the cops in videos hassling people for "breaking lockdown" while those very same cops are either not wearing a mask at all, or wearing a shitty surgical mask around their damn neck and only pulling it up when they see someone with a camera.

All of this is Kabuki theater. It's no different than being subjected to the TSA with all their stupid restrictions on what you can and cannot bring into the gate area when anyone with a 95 IQ could find all the parts and chemicals necessary to make a very real and very dangerous IED at various stores INSIDE the perimeter.

The virus didn't do this. The virus didn't wreck the economy and destroy 30 million jobs and the livelihoods of millions more. The virus didn't grind a path of destruction across the country like an F5 tornado. We did it. We did it to ourselves because we allowed fear to dictate how we live our lives.

The "greatest country in the world" brought to it's knees by the fear of a virus that legitimately threatens less than 1% of the population.

It would be funny if it wasn't real.

BaronAsh
BaronAsh

The mask is basically a mind control prop.
According to the doctor who blew the whistle on Fauxi and his toxic vaccine programs, wearing a mask increased the likelihood of infection taking root for high risk individuals for whom recirculating much of the same air again and again is orders of magnitude more risky than breathing in fresh air without one.

This whole thing is ridiculous.

BaronAsh
BaronAsh

Better yet: take HCQ + Zinc as basic prophylactic if you are over 60, everyone else go back to work and mingle, and end all this nonsense.

tokidoki
tokidoki

Now "they" are saying that even the very best N95 masks might not be useful i.e. especially the ones with valves are useless.

LouMannheim
LouMannheim

I can't trust anything on Amazon that isn't a known brand. Then there's the shipping damage.

Jdog1
Jdog1

The question that begs to be answered is how much control did the Federal Government have in the shipping of the masks. Was the shipping of the masks "approved" by the Federal Government, or was it simply a routine shipment like thousands of others? Why so much attention on this when you have given no attention whatsoever to the fact that Democrats opposed the cessation of flights from China to the US when the President purposed it?
There is a difference between responsible journalism and being a political tool.....

Anon1970
Anon1970

N95 masks, made by 3M Company in the US, cost me under $15 for a box of 10 at Amazon in the fall of 2018 during California's fire season. Now they are in short supply and are much more expensive. It is not surprising to read that China bought up millions of masks from foreign suppliers.

Axiom7
Axiom7

There really is really no definitive proof on masks. Nor on the kill rate of the virus (i.e. what is the actual denominator). Mask effectiveness likely varies with your risk of being exposed to viral loading (in a nursing home/hospital, wear a mask; outside in the park don't). At this point the only effectiveness of the mask is to signal your political affiliation :)

However you haven't (and cannot) prove the (a) need and (b) effectiveness of masks for low/medium risk people in day-to-day situations.

njbr
njbr

Mask wearing in times of viral illnesses is almost universal in Asia. Oddly enough, they've generally beaten back the virus far better than the US which regularly clocks in with a 1/3 of the deaths and new cases in the world.

Yeah, 'Murica!

Meanwhile Trumpr's previous favorite death forecaster revises death forecast bigly upward ...

================
SEATTLE (May 4, 2020) – New COVID-19 forecasts for the US project nearly 135,000 deaths through the beginning of August, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

The revised projections reflect rising mobility in most US states as well as the easing of social distancing measures expected in 31 states by May 11, indicating that growing contacts among people will promote transmission of the coronavirus. Increases in testing and contact tracing, along with warming seasonal temperatures – factors that could help slow transmission – do not offset rising mobility, thereby fueling a significant increase in projected deaths.

IHME’s model assumes that mandates that are currently in place will stay in place until infections are minimized.

The projected US deaths through early August total 134,475, with a range of 95,092 to 242,890.

“In each state, the evolution of the epidemic depends on the balance between relaxed social distancing, increasing temperature, and rising rates of testing and contact tracing,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. “We expect that the epidemic in many states will now extend through the summer.”

By wearing masks, staying six feet away from others, and washing hands, individuals can lower the risk of transmission.

Yeah, 'Murica, bring it on--we'll shoot it in the face!

Stupid is as stupid does...

He's bringing in Kevin Hassett to do a "cubic" model of deaths now...

Isaiah217
Isaiah217

I wonder how many people commenting have any experience with masks whatsoever. Look at the picture used in this article. Just like was mentioned earlier, these masks are incapable of creating an airtight seal around the mouth and nose. It doesn't matter that they attach behind the ears or neck. Also as mentioned earlier, airflow will follow the path of least resistance. I work in commercial construction doing renovations and earlier this year worked inside a building where concrete was being cut dry (contractor was not prepared and didn't care). I wore a N95 mask the entire time but i could smell the concrete dust and also had concrete dust where most construction workers have it, around the nose. The N95 masks will catch some particles but not all of them. It's just a feel good measure in this case.

ndre avo
ndre avo

Bought it on EBAY ! Sellers from LA/China are prepared ! Expensive though!

Webej
Webej

Ah. Trump claims China hoarded PPE and didn't give us any warning.

[1] So the administration was really trying to secure supplies of PPE in early February when we all knew about the Chinese lock-down and building hospitals in 10 days.

[2] And when they couldn't buy any, they immediately took emergency action to ramp up production of PPE in America before the coming wave hit America

If there is no proof of those two efforts, Trump should just shut up.
Actually, America was exporting PPE instead of preparing.
And Trump was denying there was any threat for the US.

joemanc
joemanc

2 weeks ago today, my home state of CT required everyone to wear a mask in a business or in public when you couldn't social distance. Yesterday, our hospitalizations went down for the 12th day in a row. Correlation? I will note that the number of people infected continues to increase, so I do wonder if the masks help to keep you from getting a full dose of the virus which allows your body to fight the virus better and prevent folks from getting hospitalized. Something to keep an eye on as we move forward.

sangell
sangell

I don’t have a problem because i have a box of 50 MMM masks I bought years ago for the Swine fly.
Maybe the real problem are the governors in the Northeast who allowed the Coronavirus to spread out of control and failed to adequately supply THEIR public hospitals with PPE? If they weren’t up to the job they should have turned over the task to the Federal government years ago.

aqualech
aqualech

Can someone remind me what is the actual health risk for those under let's say 75 and also of normal health, IE not immuno-compromised or with other serious "co-morbidities"? Just an approximate number will do. Then we'll consider the mask debate.

njbr
njbr

Mask shortages (and all the other current shortages) are the reminder of the dangers of a just-in time (JIT) purchasing culture, putting the lie to the assumption of perpetually adequate supplies and the free and easy flow of goods and services.

njbr
njbr

For aqualech and all of the others who don't yet understand

from CDC

HOSPITALIZATIONS

18-49 age at 2.5% (of 120 million in that age group = 3.0 million)
50-64 age at 7.4% (of 60 million in that age group = 4.4 million)
65-75 age at 12.2% (of 40 million in that age group = 4.8 million)

So 12.2 million at risk of illness serious enough for hospitalization.

A certain percentage of that 12.2 million WILL die.

As for death rate in hospitals, the survival rate in a hospital is entirely dependent upon a healthy workforce in the hospital with adequate supplies and equipment to treat the patients.

An overwhelmed hospital will result in the most deaths.

That is the whole reason for things like masks and distancing--SLOW THE SPREAD.

If you don't slow the spread, far more of those 12 million people whom you seem to value more than all other age groups will have a better chance of survival.
It is recognized that people will die, but the death rate is lowest IF the hospitals are not overwhelmed with million hitting the hospitals in a few months.

JayTe
JayTe

Mish, with respect the purpose of mask is to prevent the wearer from getting saliva that could contain some virus or bacteria on the person in front of them. It is not for protecting you the wearer from getting the disease. In fact, it can lead to you getting a disease! I leave you to see this short section of an interview with Judy Mikovits to explain. https://youtu.be/EBu5_znRN2k

MATHGAME
MATHGAME

I'm curious about all the assertions that no mask is better than any mask ... Will the same people advocate that covering your mouth with hand or tissue or handkerchief or elbow crook should be avoided at all cost and everyone who ever coughs or sneezes, whether ill or not, should just "let it fly" wherever they are?!

Especially in light of the fact that so many of the same people keep insisting that there are 10x or 20x or 30x or 100x as many asymptomatic carriers walking around and therefore spreading SARs-COV-2 everywhere they go?!

Or is the "I'm never wearing any mask!" crowd just the usual crowd boasting "Ain't nobody nowhere nohow ever gonna tell me what I can and cannot do! I'm an American! I'm free to do damn well whatever I please!"

Jdog1
Jdog1

The real issue here is how much of the virus you are exposed to. A small amount and chances are good your immune system will be able to deal with it. A large dose and chances of your immune system getting overwhelmed is much greater. This is why despite using PPE many hospital workers are getting severe cases, they are exposed to large amounts of the virus for prolonged periods increasing their overall dose.

As with poison, virus lethal impact is tied to the dose. N95 masks are really not much more effective than less expensive surgical masks, especially if not sealed properly. They are both about 95% effective for nose and mouth used properly. A simple mask made from a t-shirt is about 50-60% effective. Neither protect from exposure through the eyes, and this virus can be absorbed through the eyes if exposed.

Also the masks should be thrown away or laundered after every use. In the case of N95 masks, this can become very expensive.

Jdog1
Jdog1

It depends entirely on your exposure. The dose makes the poison. Your body has to make antibodies to fight any virus, and that takes a little time. It is a race between your bodies immune system and the replication of the virus. The biggest determining factor in that race is the initial dose of the virus. It is like compounding interest, the more you begin with, the faster it grows. That is why PPE is important, to reduce your exposure as much as possible.

Canopusgroup
Canopusgroup

Hello Mish,

I am Sel from Canopus Group. We are the sellers of the above mentioned N95 Masks at www.canopusgroup.us

You seem to have a confusion between CDC Niosh certified N95 and FDA cleared N95 masks.

Please get in contact with us so we can show you our N95 Test certifications and FDA N95 registrations.

We strive our best to supply N95 masks during this crisis, we want everybody to know we are not scammers.

Sincerely,

Sel

jfs
jfs

I wonder how much protection you get from putting a paper bag over your head?

Carl_R
Carl_R

It is bizarre how many people think that the reason for wearing masks is to protect the people who are wearing the mask. Masks are to to protect other people FROM you. Covid19 is passed to other people primarily by people who are asymptiomatic. Thus, you might feel fine, but in actuality, be infecting everyone around you. How can you be sure you aren't infecting others? There are only two ways, social isolation, and wearing a mask. If you don't favor social isolation, you should support everyone wearing a mask, a much better alternative.

It is worth pointing out that the mask pictured at the top of this page would be considered an unacceptable mask, since it has a vent. In the event that the wearer coughs or sneezes, virus particles will shoot out of the vent at high velocity, potentially infecting anyone nearby.

Gdkeeth
Gdkeeth

Matchmakers Global Sourcing is sourcing KN95s from a very large factory in China that surpass the 95% test. They are vertical and even have their own testing equipment. A recent test showed their masks to exceed 99% and we filmed it to share with anyone who wants to see it. We are an American owned agency with an American on the ground in China. My personal email is gdkeeth@gmail.com


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