Today’s entry: Obvious answer here, but let’s pose to south Fla what’s more effective: One kid with an N95 mask or two kids with cloth/surgical masks? We gotta find out how many of these concerned parents and teachers are wearing N95’s. I’ll bet it’s 10%.
Bottom Line: I've continued to receive a steady flow of questions, comments, and concerns regarding the school mask debate. As we wait, watch and see what will happen with the state’s appeal of Leon County Circuit Court Judge’s John Cooper’s ruling, while school mask mandates are being enforced throughout South Florida, you’ve raised an interesting question we’ve not yet addressed.
While we’ve talked about “mask efficacy” based on type, we’ve not really talked much about what types of masks people are actually wearing. Before traveling down that path, I’ll reset based on recognized studies regarding the overall efficacy of masks based on type in combating the spread of COVID-19.
- N-95: 96%
- Surgical masks: 77%
- Multilayer cloth masks: 50% - 70%
- Single-layer cloth masks: sub 50%
So clearly mask type matters. So now to the crux of your question. What are people actually wearing? Let’s start with which ones we have. A McKinsey study found unsurprisingly most of us have multiple types. About 75% have cloth, 57% surgical, and 33% N95. Already we see that the most owned masks are the least effective masks, and the least owned ones are the most effective. This is likely a byproduct of masks having commonly become part of a fashion statement, in addition to comfort. That’s clearly a precursor to where this story is going.
Your guess was 10%. That’s a really good guess. The answer is 13% of the time. Even with a third of people having one, it’s still well down the mask priority list among those who have it. If this were truly about maximizing the opportunity to stop the spread of COVID-19, whether it’s in schools or elsewhere, the priority and perhaps mandates should be specifically for N-95 masks. Instead, it's just another example of pandemic expediency.
If school districts are to be so militant about mask policy, and to the extent to where they’ll sue to attempt to have the right to impose them while taking disciplinary action against non-compliant students, you have to wonder why they don’t mandate N-95's since they’ve been known to be the most effective all along.
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Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio