Another day, another “new normal.”

In February, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams was pleading with Americans to stop buying protective masks.

“Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!” Adams said in a Feb. 29 tweet. “They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

Fast forward to April, and Adams and other health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the respected public face of the fight against the coronavirus, recommend that all Americans wear a covering of some sort when they leave their homes.

“Given the fact that we know that asymptomatic people are clearly transmitting infection, it just makes common sense” Fauci said earlier this week.

Adams and Fauci are both right (and Adams is also right now, as he is urging the use of face-coverings and even offering a mask-making how-to on YouTube). 

The updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization are based on new information. The idea is not to protect yourself, but others.

As many as 25% of the people carrying the coronoavirus show no symptoms, meaning they could contribute to its spread without even knowing it. Still, we must save the n95 and surgical masks for health care workers dealing with patients. And while DIY masks aren’t perfect by any means, a covering made with a pillowcase can be as much as 60% effective in filtering microscopic particles leaving a person’s mouth. Even a lowly bandanna is 18% effective. In a pandemic during which a death toll of 100,000 Americans is considered optimistic, 18% is not an insignificant number.

Yes, it seems like there is a new edict from health officials every day exhorting us to do everything from grocery shop in shifts to walk only on the left hand side of the street. It can be confusing, and it can be easy to become frustrated. The difficult thing to do is to listen, and to adapt. But that is what we must do.

To check out the surgeon general’s homemade mask how to, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPx1yqvJgf4

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