Scientists reveal an alarming unintended consequence of wearing masks

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You should absolutely wear a mask in public. But experts agree—be careful it doesn’t make you feel invincible. The science is certain at this point : Wearing a mask can help reduce the likelihood of being infected with COVID-19. But masks alone are far from perfect. Over the past two weeks, as masks have gone from optional to mandatory in many states, I’ve noticed a shift in behavior. I’ve seen people wearing masks at small get-togethers and people wearing masks in stores—all without observing the six feet of social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read Full Story

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This reusable mask is designed to fix the 28 major problems with the N95

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After SARS, the government outlined ways the N95 needed to improve. The new Octo Safety Device fixes most of those issues. During the SARS outbreak in Toronto in 2003, healthcare workers raised concerns about N95 masks, saying that the respirators were uncomfortable to wear for long shifts and could lead to headaches and shortness of breath. In the aftermath of SARS, the U.S. government issued a report arguing that the masks needed to be redesigned for future epidemics, citing 28 ways the masks needed to improve. Then the fear of pandemics faded from most people’s minds. But Tobias Franoszek and Natasha Duwin were working on making a new mask that fulfilled those benchmarks. Read Full Story

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A brief history of people refusing to wear masks

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People wore masks slung to the back of their necks until they saw policemen. Others cut holes in their masks for their cigars and cigarettes. Should people be forced to wear face masks in public? That’s the question facing governments as more countries unwind their lockdowns. Over 30 countries have made masks compulsory in public, including Germany, Austria, and Poland. This is despite the science saying masks do little to protect wearers, and only might prevent them from infecting other people. Read Full Story

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Voting by mail is secure, but it has a seriously low-tech downside: your signature

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One of the main reasons absentee ballots get rejected is that the signature you write on them doesn’t match with what the state has on file for you. By now you’ve thought seriously about voting by mail. You’ve seen the long lines of angry and/or nervous and/or bored mask-wearing people outside of polling places, as in Milwaukee during the primaries, and you don’t want that to be you. What you might not realize is that while voting by mail is widely considered to be secure, it’s still a clunky, low-tech process governed by decades-old laws. And whether or not your vote is counted could easily come down to the way you sign your ballot. Read Full Story

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How to ask friends, coworkers, and strangers to wear a mask

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Experts weigh in on approaching difficult conversations around mask wearing, social distancing, and other safety protocols. As coronavirus rates continue to skyrocket across the United States, many of us are following protective measures, such as washing our hands frequently and wearing masks. But despite the evidence that mask wearing and social distancing decrease COVID-19 infection rates, not everyone is doing their part. In a recent Gallup poll, 18% of Americans said they either “rarely” or “never” wear a mask when outside their homes. Read Full Story

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A four-part plan to wearing a mask all summer

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Wearing a mask is uncomfortable enough already. What happens when the heat and humidity skyrocket? Summer is around the corner, and here in Boston we’ve already had a few warm days. When that happens, it feels like everybody in my neighborhood rushes out the door to soak in the sunshine. The CDC now recommends—and many states mandate—that people wear cloth masks in public places where social distancing isn’t possible. As a result, the parks and trails are now packed with people wearing a rainbow of colorful face coverings. Read Full Story

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What is a mask valve, and why are cities banning them?

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Valves will keep you more comfortable, but endanger those around you. In some states and major cities, it’s now mandatory to wear a mask in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That mask could be anything from a handkerchief to a designer cotton mask to a full-blown N95 respirator , so long as you have something between your mouth and nose and the world around you. Read Full Story

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