Minds Matter – Behavioral Health in Pandemics and BeyondJanuary 29, 2021
The Kindness Advantage is Out on Audio BookFebruary 17, 2021
I get it.
Unless you are Batman, Darth Vader, Spiderman, The Lone Ranger, or Zorro, or you are trick-or-treating at Halloween, or attending a fancy masked ball, you probably do not like wearing a mask. Safe to say NOBODY LIKES WEARING A MASK.
But, like crosswalks and stop signs, we wear masks today to ensure my safety, your safety, and the safety of the general populace. It’s also the kind thing to do – to care and look out for your fellow woman and man.
Yes, I’m a bit perplexed these days. I don’t understand why some people opt to not wear a mask and why some wear them below their noses or under their chins.
I’ve noticed lately that when I go out for a relaxing walk, I feel calmer and grateful when I see others on “our shared path” wearing masks. I’ve also noticed that I feel agitated when I see people whose masks are hanging off their ears, are below their noses or mouths, or are absent altogether. To maintain my equanimity, I recite a loving kindness meditation, step off the path, let them pass by, and focus on something beautiful in nature.
Science is apolitical. It doesn’t care where we live; it doesn’t care what our beliefs are. It’s simply an unbiased, organized and proven body of knowledge. What science tells us about COVID is that everyone is susceptible, kids and adults alike, and that it can lead to body pain like you’ve never experienced before, can have long lasting side effects, and can lead to death, especially in people with underlying health conditions (also young and old alike).
Put another way, about 133 million Americans suffer from at least one chronic illness. That’s 40% of the population! Imagine yourself grocery shopping. Now imagine that 4 in 10 people in that store have a chronic illness. Now imagine the damage one unmasked or half-masked person can do.
Apart from being the kind thing to do, isn’t wearing a mask just the smart thing to do?
40-45% of Americans with COVID are asymptomatic
Simply put, those who have COVID and don’t have symptoms represent almost half of all COVID cases. Asymptomatics can, and do, pass the virus along to others.
Masks protect us from COVID infection
Masks can prevent those with COVID from spreading the virus. Masks can also protect those who don’t have COVID. Did you know that an experiment using high-speed video found that hundreds of droplets ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers were generated when saying a simple phrase, but that nearly all these droplets were blocked when the mouth was covered by a [face mask]?
Distance a cough will travel using these face masks
On average, we cough 1-2x per hour during the day. Here’s how a viable mask actually helps prevent the spread of a cough:
Cough will travel at least 6 feet
Medical grade mask (blue cotton quilted fabric)
Cough will travel 2 ½ inches
Cough will travel 8 inches
It’s simple math at this point, isn’t it? The likelihood of passing along COVID or being infected by it is stymied by wearing a mask.
We have a way to go before we’re all vaccinated and can hopefully move beyond our current predicament.
When called upon in these dark hours, when Gotham appears destined for the abyss with preternatural speed, let’s reach deep – together – for our inordinate powers of benevolence and generosity. Lives will transform. Health outcomes will improve. Relationships will prosper.
And kindness will have won.
Recognizing the disadvantages of masks
Speech volume is lowered behind a mask. Add face shields and social distancing to the mix and it’s obvious that speech recognition can be compromised. For those with hearing loss, it can be impossible to recognize speech because many people rely on reading lips to augment their ability to understand what is being said.
Thirty-eight million people have a hearing loss in the US. Here are some considerations when speaking with someone who has diminished hearing:
Wear a face shield instead of a mask
Although helpful, keep in mind that face shields have not yet been approved as a substitute for face masks by the CDC.
Use smartphones and tablets to communicate
You can also download a speech detection app that transcribes conversations in real time
Eliminate or reduce background noise from your conversations
Dishwashers, fans, TV’s and radios, other people’s conversations, music, to name a few
Use amplification devices
Pocket talkers can amplify sound with the use of ear buds or headphones
Be aware of lighting
If the sun or bright lights are behind you, it will be difficult for someone to “read your lips” and see your facial expressions