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Counties change tune on face protection, but not on N95 or surgical masks

Original post made on Apr 2, 2020

Bay Area public health leaders are now asking residents to cover their faces with a cloth before leaving their homes, heeding advice released by the state on Wednesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, April 2, 2020, 6:51 PM

Comments (40)

7 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 2, 2020 at 8:56 pm

Anyone have specifications for a homemade mask that is actually useful rather than counterproductive?


6 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 2, 2020 at 10:18 pm

Where would we even buy the proper masks?


1 person likes this
Posted by bemused
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 2, 2020 at 10:26 pm

@resident, you can search youtube for "How to Make Your Own Face Mask (only 2 materials needed!)". The two materials are a bandana and hair-ties. I'll link one below, but I think maybe youtube links are not allowed so it will probably get removed. If you don't have a bandana, you could cut a square from an old pillowcase or sheet. Instead of hair-ties you can use rubberbands. Etc.

Web Link


8 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 2, 2020 at 10:29 pm

@Resident

I’ve actually been wondering whether we can make them out of other HEPA filters. (For instance, my vacuum cleaner has filter replacements that are certified HEPA.)


1 person likes this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 2, 2020 at 10:47 pm

There is info online about diy face masks, including ratings for different materials. Apparently T-shirts and pillow cases work well (almost as well as a surgical mask). Vacuum cleaner filters work a little better (non-HEPA). I made one out of a vacuum cleaner bag and some blue painter's tape.


2 people like this
Posted by Seth Wu
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 3, 2020 at 2:21 am

There is a good discussion on DIY masks here:

"Which DIY mask pattern should you use? Even experts can’t pick one to recommend."
Web Link

And here is a nifty DIY Shop Towel Mask (no sew, no cut),
Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Seth Wu
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 3, 2020 at 2:42 am

Here is a nifty DIY Handkerchief Mask (no sew, no cut)
Web Link

Here is a great DIY HEPA Vacuum Bag Mask:
"A Doctor Explains How to Make the Safest Face Mask"
Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Seth Wu
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 3, 2020 at 2:57 am

Some additional notes regarding the DIY Hepa Vacuum Bag Mask above.

Directions for making masks:
Web Link_...

Mask patterns:
Web Link...


13 people like this
Posted by Seth Wu
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 3, 2020 at 3:13 am

Very Sorry Folks. Need to probably NIX the Hepa Vacuum Bag Mask idea.

There is indication that some Hepa vacuum bags have glass microfiber material in them which if cut open is a lung-health hazard.

Query, are there Hepa vacuum bags using only nonwoven blown melt polypropylene filter material and no glass microfiber?
o How can we tell and distinguish them?
o Need to get confirmation from the manufacturers of each brand of Hepa vacuum bag.

Here is link to the warning call.
HEALTH WARNING - HEPA FILTER MASK
Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by Seth Wu
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 3, 2020 at 3:35 am

So, a quick double check indicates it is safe to use Hoover upright vacuum bag filters. The good Doctor Ryan Southworth with his DIY Vacuum Bag Mask did not lead us astray.

Apparently many Hepa house filters for furnaces and ac units use glass fiber.

However, Hoover upright vacuums use Filtrete filters which are polypropylene filters.

E.g., Hoover Type Y HEPA (4010801Y) - Vacuum Bag for WindTunnel; WindTunnel Anniversary Edition U6485900

This product contains two high filtration bags constructed with three layers of Filtrete HEPA filter media. It fits Hoover upright ....

About 3M Filtrete 1" Air Filters:

3M Filtrete filters contain electrostatically charged filter media made of polypropylene and polyolefin plastic, and capture particles that measure between 0.3 - 10 microns in size.
Compare 3M Filtrete Filters – iAllergy

3M Filtrete filters contain electrostatically charged filter media made of polypropylene and polyolefin plastic, and capture particles that measure between 0.3 - 10 microns in size. The electrostatic properties cause the filter to act like a magnet, helping it to attract both large and small particles into the filter's pleated fabric. 3M Filtrete filters (MPR 600 or higher), when clean and new, outperform all other fiberglass, washable and non-electrostatic 1" residential air filters.

From <Web Link;


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2020 at 7:12 am

Anyone know where you can buy a bandana?

The assumption that we all have a ski mask, paper bag, etc. is a little presumptuous. Perhaps they will give a prize for the most ingenious?


4 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 3, 2020 at 7:21 am

This is the link I mentioned in my earlier comments that rates different materials for diy masks:

Web Link

If you tend not to want to go along with the crowd and find that masks are kind of creepy, I'd encourage you to make a mask in your own style and maybe decorate it with buttons and stuff. Anything is better than nothing and it shows that you care.


Like this comment
Posted by bemused
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2020 at 7:27 am

@Resident, Joann Fabric carries bandanas. They offer buy online, curbside pick up though I haven't tried that yet so I'm not sure about how well it works. Or you can get them shipped of course. Here's a coupon code for 40% off all regular priced items in an online order: 40APRILREG

But the pattern will work with any square of material about that size. I'd guess some sort of close woven material is best.


1 person likes this
Posted by bemused
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 3, 2020 at 7:33 am

p.s. I ordered 100% cotton, made in USA bandanas from this site years ago for a birthday party: Web Link
It looks like they have them available, but you'd have to check with them if they're currently open and shipping.


4 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 3, 2020 at 7:36 am

Since this is so important, let me add a couple of links if you want see technical evidence of why masks are important.

This is a YouTube video link to an NHK news story on the science of micro-droplets and shows actual droplets coming out of our mouths and how they spread (even just speaking):

Web Link

This is a recent (3/25) JAMA study on droplets and how we're learning new things, and that we've been wrong about certain things regarding droplets:

Web Link

And this is a TED interview with Bill Gates about Covid-19 that I found enlightening and encouraging:

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Connie
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 3, 2020 at 8:37 am

Two layers of tightly woven cotton fabric (you could use old sheets, pillow cases, button down shirts, etc) and 1/4" - 1/2" elastic is all you need. Video instructions here:
Web Link


Posted by Trump fired the national mask pattern team
a resident of Evergreen Park

on Apr 3, 2020 at 8:48 am

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


2 people like this
Posted by Mask free zone: Rancho San Antonio
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 3, 2020 at 8:59 am

If you want to escape into another community and mingle with people from all over, mask free, MidPen is facilitating that. They have set their lots up to enable such a thing. They would rather people be able to drive in and park than protect the surrounding communities.

If you don't take coronavirus seriously and think the gov't is over-reacting, Rancho San Antonio is where you need to go. Plenty of parking welcoming people from all over the area.

Yes, the above is all sad sarcasm.


2 people like this
Posted by Iluminato
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2020 at 11:05 am

There has to be someone who has come up with a way to make masks quickly and cheaply. They're probably already working on making a boatload of masks. There's a fortune to be make there by someone who's already set up for that sort of thing. I can't make a vaccine but maybe I could make masks...


2 people like this
Posted by JK
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 3, 2020 at 11:41 am

I'm wondering how many Palo Alto households have an earthquake kit that contains a mask?


5 people like this
Posted by merry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 3, 2020 at 11:50 am

Seems like with diy masks, we would just walk around with contamination.
I like social distancing and lots and lots of hand washing.
Nothing cleans like soap and water!


7 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 3, 2020 at 12:08 pm

Well, I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. ;-) See my comment in the
"Markets & Businesses - Require People to Wear Masks Indoors" post.

As I understand it, the benefit from the public wearing masks is that it catches your
germs before they can get out and diffuse into the air of an enclosed space, like a
supermarket.

Wearing a mask is something we do for others.

Wearing a HEPA filter is probably overkill and unnecessary, though I am sure in the
future they will have and sell such a beast. The idea of the HEPA filter mask is to
filter out viral particles which are about 10-20 time smaller than a bacteria, which
are usually smaller than a living cell. The HEPA filter mask idea is trying to prevent
one from inhaling viral particles to the lungs where they would infect us with COVID-19.

If everyone wore a mask it would probably do a lot more proactively to help prevent
infections that trying at the last minute to save someone from ARDS ( acute respiratory
distress syndrome ) with a ventilator, not to mention easing the burden and risk of
being health care worker.

The news is telling us that the main barrier to solving this problem is our own stupidity
and stubbornness ... and lack of adequate preparation so we can funnel profits to
certain people. Will we learn in the future, and if so will we just forget again?


7 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 3, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Merry ...
> Seems like with diy masks, we would just walk around with contamination.

Why? What is your reasoning about that. The function of the mask is to prevent
your own germs from contaminating and diffusing the air of a public enclosed
space to lower risk for other people. If you are getting contamination it would
by far be your own germs.

Say you have to go shopping. You do not need the mask until you go inside
the store. Go alone and get in and get out as fast as possible touching as
little as possible and and speaking as little as possible to others. If you happen
to cough, or sneeze, or just breathe at someone else the mask will catch most
or much of what you expel.

The proactivity of wearing a mask and preventing infection in places we all
have to go like supermarkets makes a lot more sense than retroactively trying
to save people in hospitals who are already in respiratory distress and may be
infecting health care workers.


3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 3, 2020 at 12:24 pm

From my days in IC design and wafer fabrication clean rooms my understanding is that HEPA filters are made of fiberglass

My major concern about HEPA masks would be if particles from the fiberglass filter would come loose and get into human's lungs? That would be very bad news if it was in any significant amount/dose.

A perfect filter is not needed for a mask to suppress one's own exhalations. That is the purpose of wearing a mask, to make sure that people who are infected will minimize their affect on everyone else. That is why they are saying a bandana or paper towel, etc is very useful and a big plus over just nothing.


Like this comment
Posted by Joy
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2020 at 2:52 pm

I found the meltblown cloth on amazon. Not sure if its the right one thought


18 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 3, 2020 at 4:19 pm

We need leaders at the Government top, who give us clear and timely advices. This back-and-forth does not help us at all. I am glad that Governor Newson is driven to help his people.

We need more leaders such as Governor Gavin Newson and Captain Brett Crozier who are courageous enough to stand up and protect the people they are responsible for.


4 people like this
Posted by Patricia Birdsell
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2020 at 4:32 pm

I just down loaded these Free PDF patterns to make your own face mask. The first one is pleated. The second one is simpler.

Web Link

Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by michele
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 3, 2020 at 5:01 pm

Anyone know if the Kenmore type O vacuum bag 53294 contains glass fibers?


3 people like this
Posted by theAlex
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 3, 2020 at 5:47 pm

@Michele:

It's got HEPA filtration, so it's likely that it does.

From all I've read, simple cloth masks made from t-shirts or pillowcases work well.

Remember that the virus is coming out of our mouth/nose, and is inside of a water droplet/micro-droplet, so it doesn't need to be such a fine filter as you'd need if the virus were dry.

Here is the link I posted above that rates different fabrics. Most are very close to a regular surgical mask: Web Link

Remember, perfect is the enemy of the good.


23 people like this
Posted by Skye
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 4, 2020 at 1:02 pm

As a nurse I'm sorry to vent, but I just saw a bunch of folk playing basketball in a park and some had DIY masks like that made everything okay. I need to throw some stuff out here. As said by CrestParkAnon above, you need to look at DIY masks as a means to protect others with less of the idea it can protect you. Even a N95 mask, unless carefully fitted, is not 100%. Before use we have a whole process of fitting the mask and then using various smelly items to varify that no air is passing directly in getting in around the edges. Any mask without complete skin contact all around is not going to prevent air droplets from being sucked in around the edges when you inhale. Air droplets move with air currents for a while and a distance. The better DIY masks can be made with something like wire around the nose and wire or something stiff all the way around like cardboard edging or some are trying nickel silver cuffs, to make them fittable all the way around, most of the masks being DIY'ed are only good to minimize direct exposure, like if someone coughs right in your face, but if that happens then since there are mucus membranes in the eyes, the mask isn't any help there either. Right now work is going on with people with 3D printers to print N95 level masks, and there is research going on on a fabric called Filti that claims has viral level filtration by nanotechnology and the masks made from it would supposedly be washable, but there isn't much proof of that yet... though some states are looking into it and some groups are using the fabric to make masks with, but again, they need to be fitted and then you still need to wear googles if you go out to protect yourself. If all you have is an open edge mask, you should wear it to protect others, and decrease the likelihood of direct exposure, and try to avoid walking through areas someone else is in or just left, but the safest thing now if you don't have to go out, don't, if you don't have to have other folk in, don't. If you must, then something is better than nothing, but understand what it can and cannot do and try to layer the protections. Health professionals are now reusing their N95's, we have no choice, and most are putting a standard surgical mask over it to catch any moisture or body fluids from the patients before it touches the N95 to extend its efficacy, but we use preferably a face shield or surgical masks over the N95 to keep it clean longer and googles for actively symptomatic patients to prevent droplets getting in the eyes. Again, sorry if I'm coming on strong, but people are not distancing, not taking every precaution, not thinking if they get it, even if they don't die, they may be the one that gives it to someone that will die. If it isn't someone they care about, it might be someone I care about!


6 people like this
Posted by Skye
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Apr 4, 2020 at 1:06 pm

Sorry, I'm on Google, but meant goggles. (:>) Just that kind of day.


2 people like this
Posted by Shalini
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2020 at 3:02 pm

I have been making fabric masks last few weeks with pockets to insert a filter. I heard the hospitals were using hepa filters to insert. Then I saw this about fiberglass in HEPA filters Web Link Does anyone here know more about the short term effect of using HEPA filters so close to your nose and mouth that you could breathe it in.


9 people like this
Posted by john
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 5, 2020 at 9:28 pm

Please do not use HEPA vacuum cleaner bags that contain fiberglass. Keep that out of your lungs!!!
You can get furnace air filters called Filtrete with a ratings of 1500 or higher, and sew a pocket in your mask and put the cut up rectangle unfolded furnace air filter in between the two sides of your mask for superior protection. Filtrete is made of spun polyester and can capture airborne particles 0.3 microns to 1 micron.


Like this comment
Posted by carlito Waysmann
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 6, 2020 at 8:13 pm

@Skyie, Your comments are right on the money. The actual reason on why we are being asked to use homemade masks is the shortage of N95 masks then we are asked to improvise some sort of partial protection for others and us, and still they chose to omit suggesting wearing goggles.

Plenty of information available for more than 3 months, of characteristics of the Wuhan Covid19 virus regarding its latency in the air (3 hours),its reach after exhalation (27 ft), how long it last on different materials surfaces, etc. Our Nation's health authorities are always slow to react, by instinct they go to their outdated books/procedures and ignore up to date scientific data.

It made us chuckle the looks we got from people seeing us with goggles and our N95 masks( part of our emergency kit), when we went to our daily errands since 2 months ago.


Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 7, 2020 at 12:31 pm

While it is better to be safe than sorry and err on the safe side,
is this policy misguided, or aimed at those who cannot think of
others or obey rules?

My understanding is that a mask is useful when you are indoors
where the virus you might unload into the air is trapped and
could affect other people - or same but when you are outdoors
and 6 feet apart or less.

I don't know what the rationale for using masks just for being
outside is?

I think we would be better off by refining behaviors when we are
indoors or close together outdoors. The main place I am around
people now is at the supermarket. So, masks definitely seem in
order there, also ...

- wiping down anything that people touch, such as carts or baskets.
- forming one single-file line away from the cashiers until you check out.
- In line, put 6-foot marks on the floor to separate shoppers.
- Go alone, do not browse, get in and get out.

And for God's sake leave the rest of us some toilet paper please! ;-)


2 people like this
Posted by christine doerr
a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2020 at 6:50 am

I have designed a simple mask. It vents! It is vey breathable! It is easy to make and it filters to .1 micron, then the material is doubled to improve the filtration. I posted directions on you tube. I have confidence in this mask: I worked in the US navy as an engineer on a tug boat and had to wear a lot of masks. We had to deal with asbestos and other nasty particulate matter. The problem with most mask are: they don't allow enough breathing, they don't vent allowing the inside to get hot and humid. This design solves these issues. - I need a good supply of stiff .1 micron material. I made these out of vacuum bag material because it is what I had. This two layer filter paper is folded in half thereby sealing the inner filter material in-between the two layers of the outer layer of paper.
Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by marjaye
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2020 at 2:44 am

Hoover Hepa Y Vacuum Filters do not have fiberglass. It can be used safely with DIY masks. Vacuumstore.com out of Illinois.


Like this comment
Posted by marjaye
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2020 at 2:50 am

However, Hoover upright vacuums use Filtrete filters which are polypropylene filters.

E.g., Hoover Type Y HEPA (4010801Y) - Vacuum Bag for WindTunnel; WindTunnel Anniversary Edition U6485900

This product contains two high filtration bags constructed with three layers of Filtrete HEPA filter media. It fits Hoover upright ....


Like this comment
Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 14, 2020 at 12:09 am

If you support wearing masks/face coverings inside, please ask Palo Alto to mandate their use. It protects our workers and community. No, they are not perfect, but let's do our best as a community to protect each other. Los Angeles did it. We can do it too.


2 people like this
Posted by Think different, not like a sheep
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 14, 2020 at 9:59 am

[Post removed.]


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