To Wear a Facemark or not Wear a Face mask

As we enter a phase where public officials are wrestling of the next steps of the pandemic, they will eventually have to deal with what I call an acceptable risk going forward. In other words no matter what you do deaths will occur, but have we seen enough to make an estimate of what is an acceptable risk for public policy. The mainstream media like to report deaths on a daily basis that only spreads more fear. What number of deaths is an acceptable risk, have we reached that point yet?

Lets look at the numbers based on there cause of death in Canada. Here is a chart from Statistics Canada for the period of 2014- 2018. As you can see is that cancer rates have stayed the same and is the leading cause of death in Canada.

What can be of a grave concern is the rate of growth of deaths caused by the flu that indexes at 123% suggests that is growing each year. Governments tried to stop this growth through the use of a vaccine and this growth has not stopped.

So the jury is out of the effectiveness of the use of a vaccine to combat the flu. Other precautions for the prevention of flu transmission are hand sanitizers at grocery stores and for kids recreational programs all must have their own water bottle and shaking hands is not permitted in some cases. Long-term care facilities had protocols in place for infectious diseases and we have the experience of Sars too.

The number of deaths in 2018 caused by the flu was 8,511 with all the precautions we have in place to help prevent the flu. In comparison the latest Covid-19 deaths in Canada stand at 8,890 which are very similar to the number of flu deaths. Can the flu death rate be the benchmark for what is an acceptable risk to start a discussion from on this very sensitive issue. The number of deaths via Covid-19  would likely be higher if the social distancing and business closures were not implemented as witnessed by some experiences in the USA and Brazil that saw sky rocketing cases and deaths when left unchecked.

Now the numbers suggest that this is a very serious concern going forward and the debate of the medical benefits of a mask to help prevent the spread the the Covid-19 virus and its effectiveness. One thing I know for sure that wearing a mask is an act of respect for your neighbour. The heighten awareness through the government’s screaming mother communications strategy has created a sense of fear. 

Wearing a mask help workers feel safe. If you go into a store the workers face a greater risk and some will be fearful, a mask will help calm their fears, even though you might think it will not work. You also might want to remember that the virus may be air borne and HVAC systems do not filter air borne viruses so a mask may help you there too. Indoors is not a very safe if there is an outbreak. You must remember long-tern care facilities were shut down to visitors in March and these facilities became hot-spots still.

We will eventually not wear masks, but for how long and when. But, what is an acceptable risk for society to move forward with this. As we know death and taxes are inevitable and we cannot stop either of them. What is an an acceptable rate of death for this new disease? Are the flu deaths the benchmark? We cannot live in fear forever and shut everything down. But political risks are not what some politicians will ever take if they went down this path of determining what is an acceptable risk going foward. They are still getting paid and don’t have to worry about paying the bills and the collapse of some people’s lives that are in the millions.