Some of you have gotten angry with me, and others, for making fun of the current fashion trend involving wearing a mask when you go outdoors. Maybe some of you sleep with them too, but I don't know that for a fact. Having been through training in the use of a mask as a paramedic, let me tell you that the type of mask that most people are wearing wouldn't do much to protect them from the Chinese virus that's going around, or any other virus. The way that they are typically used, wearing a mask is likely to do more harm than good. Oh, if you have the virus, a mask may serve some purpose in lessening your ability to pass it on to someone else, but it's unlikely to keep you from getting it. The correct mask, used correctly, might help, but that's not what I see with anyone wearing a mask. If you've watched any of the videos of police harassing people for daring to violate state mandates against attending church or going to parks, watch them again and pay attention to what the police are doing. Then consider they have been trained in the use of a mask. The fact that many of the first people to have contracted the virus here were doctors and nurses might suggest something, too. In the videos that I have seen, the police are all congregated in a group, in which only about half of them are wearing their masks, while others might have them pulled down over their chins or up on top of their heads so that they can talk to one another without muffled voices. Although they are there to enforce social distancing laws, they are not themselves social distancing. When they approach hapless victims of their enforcement, they invariably pull their masks down so that they can give these people a lecture on the importance of following the laws on social distancing. They have now exposed these people to whatever else anyone they have been in contact with during the course of their shift may have had. Again, these people have been trained in the use of a mask. As for those who haven't, I see them in the stores and walking along the street. Since masks are hard to come by, they don't have a large supply of disposable masks, which might actually be helpful. Instead, they have a mask that they or someone else has made for them, or they might actually have one that was commercially produced for this purpose, but they only have one. Because they only have one, although they may actually wash it each night, they reuse it throughout the day. When they are in their own homes or otherwise not near someone, they will reach up and pull it down over their chin, or remove it. Invariably, they will do so with their hands, grasping the mask in what might seem to be the most obvious place, which is where it covers the mouth, and they will pull it off or down over their chin, thus transferring whatever virus the mask might have protected them from onto their hands or otherwise spreading it around. Then, because people are human, at some point, those hands will come into contact with the nose, mouth, or eyes, thus transferring the virus into the body. Our governor, even while she was giving a press conference on the importance of not touching our eyes or face, periodically licked her fingers in order to turn the page in the notes that had been prepared for her. At one point, she coughed into her hands, then continued as before. Yeah, we laughed at her but that's a human thing to do. If you are wearing a mask and there actually is a virus around you to be protected from, that virus is likely to be on your mask. When you touch it, it is now on your hands. When you touch your face, you have made pointless the whole reason for wearing a mask, to begin with. Before putting on a mask, clean your hands with hand sanitizer or alcohol-based rub or wash them thoroughly with soap and water. When wearing a mask, there should be no gaps between your face and the mask. Do not touch the mask while you are wearing it. If you do, you should immediately clean your hands as before. Your mask should be replaced if it becomes damp, and you should never reuse a single-use disposable mask. To remove your mask, remove it from behind, without touching the front of the mask, and discard it immediately in a closed bin, then clean your hands, as before. There is no medical recommendation for wearing a non-disposable cloth mask but if you choose to do so, it would stand to reason that it should be washed between each use. Masks are only effective when they are used properly and in conjunction with frequent hand-washing. Keep in mind that if there is any purpose in wearing the mask at all, then it should be considered to be contaminated after each use and treated accordingly. Whatever surface you set your mask down on after wearing it should also be considered contaminated. If you had an endless supply of disposable masks so that you could don a new mask every time that you were going to possibly have contact with another person, that could be helpful, but I don't think that's realistic for most of us, who may be having a hard enough time just finding hand sanitizer. I don't wear a mask because I understand how they should be used and acknowledge that I don't have the discipline to do this correctly every time, and since the recent mask fad, I haven't seen anyone else using them correctly, and I laugh at the use of a mask because I'm basically an ass sometimes. Nevertheless, in the way that they are used, masks are little more than an emotional security blanket. That's my opinion, but I believe it to be accurate. If you feel safer wearing a mask, then wear one, but don't assume that everyone who isn't wearing one is uninformed or careless. I do try to limit my contact with other people, as I do during flu season, but I don't consider wearing a mask to be helpful to me.