Emily, Clay County, Tanya Lewis discussed on 60-Second Science


We bring you up to speed on the science behind the most urgent questions about the virus and the disease demystify the research and help you understand what it really means. I'm tanya lewis. I'm josh fishman. We're scientific american. Senior health editors today. We're going to talk about masks. I why people resist wearing them despite all the evidence that they work. Then we'll explain. Why the kind of mask you wear matters and how to find a good one and president biden's latest update it's been baffling to watch. How angry some people get about wearing masks. They refused and some politicians back them up. It's a simple piece of fabric or material that stops the spread of kobe. So where does the pushback come from. Josh you've spoken to an expert on mask attitudes any explanation. Well like many strong reactions mask. Backlash combines a bunch of different causes and personal values emily mendenhall. A medical anthropologist at georgetown university has spent many months talking with anti mask people in an iowa town called oko boji for her book called unmasked which is coming out next year. I talked with emily this week about what she's found out. Oh kabbage is a small town on a lake in northwestern iowa. It's also where. Emily grew up so she knows a lot of people there. She knows steelworkers grocery store managers and her father's on the city council. The town sits in clay county which has about seventeen thousand residents but it balloons up to about one hundred thousand during the summer because the lake is a big local vacation spot and the economy depends on summer. People going to restaurants and amusement parks marinas the need to make money was partly why people resisted activity restrictions. Emily says and mask wearing got caught up in all that people push back. When local health agencies wanted to limit occupancy at businesses that was expressed as we don't want government telling us what to do the attitude extended to mask mandates to many people it was another example of pushy government overreach. Emily says this view is very much a part of a midwestern value of rugged individualism. You're tough enough to make it on your own and you pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. It's a fiction. She says and it ignores the history of agricultural subsidies and other government help that dominates the region. yet it's a very powerful fiction that people really believe all of that made for very fertile ground in twenty twenty when donald trump repeatedly said the virus was no big deal. His message was echoed by the iowa. Governor and at the time there were not many cova cases in this area so trump's falsehoods really worm their way into the thinking of many people in clay county. Who felt that. Since the virus wasn't a threat there was little benefit to wearing a mask. They were tough enough to deal with the disease and government. Safety measures simply took away their freedoms for no good reason. Finally mask rejection is very public act. In clay county and oko boji it gives people legitimacy among their community. Emily says it shows your neighbors that you're knowledgeable that you're smart enough not to buy into the line that liberals and scientists and the government or push it that public stance increases your standing in the eyes of many people around you now privately. Some people told emily they worried about a child getting sick or their father falling ill but publicly so many of these different anti mass cultural values came together that they became an overwhelming force. Tanya we often talk about face masks or coverings as if they're all the same but you've been looking into it. I know and you've found some masks or better than others. Can the public at their hands on and their faces into the better ones. Yes in fact the masks that work the best are those that fit well and filter the air you breathe adequately a type of mass known as respirator. Such as an end ninety five provide some of the best protection early in the pandemic health agencies including the cdc h. o. Told the general public not to wear ninety five's or other medical grade masks because they were in short supply and healthcare workers needed them. But now these masks as well as similar masks made in china or korea are much more available we also know that the virus that causes. Kobe is spread through aerosols tiny droplets float in the air and can get around a loose-fitting cloth or surgical mask. I spoke to several experts in aerosol science including lindsay mar of virginia tech and kimberly author of uc. San diego. who say that it's high time experts start recommending that people wear these high filtration better fitting masks especially with the extremely transmissible delta variant circulating and kids going back to school. These masks include ninety. Five chinese made k. And ninety five and korean made kf ninety four us. They're pretty easy to find. Nowadays online and many of them are affordable. Less than one dollar mask. I talked to a guy named aaron collins who calls himself the mass nerd. He's a mechanical engineer. With a background in aerosol science and he has converted his home bathroom into our facility where he tests different masks and reviews them on youtube he measures three parameters filtration fit and comfort which is important filtration refers to the amount of particles that get through the mask or through gaps around the edges of the mask fit is how well it fits on your face and he measures comfort in part based on the pressure drop of air entering the mask. Basically how hard it is to breathe on. The mask nerds youtube channel. You can find videos of his top mask. Picks including mass for kids for ninety five. He recommends ones made by well known brands. Such as three m mold-ex honeywell. He also recommends several types of kf ninety four's and cayenne ninety five's many of which filter upwards of ninety eight percent of particles and are often more comfortable to wear. These fit a lot better than most cloth or surgical masks and are more likely to protect both you and others counterfeit masks are concerned but you can find reputable brands through sites like project and ninety. Five dot org. You can't access these types of masks. You can still get some pretty good protection if you wear surgical mask with a well fitting cloth mask over it. But it's time to ditch those loose bandannas and gaping me masks. That hang off your nose. The dvd my fellow americans talk about where we are in the battle against cove. Nineteen the progress. We've made new work. We have left to do president. Joe biden made tens of millions of jobs contingent on vaccinations. This week in a speech biden said he'll require millions of federal workers to get vaccinated. He also said companies with one hundred or more employees will have to give workers the shots or test them. weekly one trick will be enforcement. It's not clear whether the labor department which is in charge of workplace safety as a way to make sure companies are really doing this. He's also requiring that healthcare workers at hospitals and other providers receive federal funding be vaccinated. And that's not all. He aims to make rapid testing more widely available by enacting. The defense production act to make more tests and having walmart amazon and kroger seldom and amid the anxiety over school starting and some elected officials obstructing basic safety measures. He said that the government would compensate any educator who faced retaliation biden admitted that these measures will take time. But it's clear. His approach is moving from carrots to sticks..

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