Friday, May 22, 2020

The mask we need

What do we believe now?

We think that coronavirus is moderately contagious and is spread primarily from person to person rather than by surfaces to person. We think the best way to get COVID-19 is to join an indoor dance and singing session and that outdoor spread is rare. We think indoor masks are valuable and outdoor masks are primarily social gestures. We think cloth masks work primarily by reducing spread from someone with early COVID-19 and minimal symptoms. As of today there's a suggestion that children get mild COVID-19 infections but don't spread them well.

We believe social distancing reduces spread but has a terrible economic cost that falls primarily on non-college workers and small business owners.

We believe effective therapies will emerge gradually over the next 4-18 months and effective vaccines over the next 6-18 months.

So what could we do now that would reduce infection, possibly suppress disease, and allow the economy to reopen?

We should test and trace of course, but given the state of American government and American media (Fox, Murdoch, etc) that's unlikely to be enough.

So what else could we do that doesn't require new technology or new innovation?

We could give every adult a better indoor mask. A mask that gives bidirectional protection, that protects against both infection and transmission. Give it first to 70+, then 60+, then every adult.

What are the features of this mask?

It's reusable of course. Washable with a filter module that's easy to replace. It comes with a UV light sterilizer than can hold several masks. It's a high air flow mask; you can wear it to your indoor CrossFit speakeasy and get your deadlifts done. It's not medical grade, but it's a hell of a lot better than a surgical mask.

If you're going to wear a damned indoor mask, it should work.

This doesn't require new science. It doesn't require new technology. It doesn't require closing the economy. At $100 a unit we could give every American adult this mask and a family UV sterilization unit for 30 billion dollars.

30 billion dollars. That's nothing. Jeff Bezos could do it from his change pocket.

Want to restart the economy?

Make this mask.

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