Did someone mention face-to-face? Current guidelines say that 2m distancing indoors in poorly ventilated laboratories must be accompanied by suitable face-covering. At the beginning of Summer, our HoD (and the sense of the meeting) was for visors because, frankly, nobody was wearing masks back then but we could imagine spending several hours a day talking through a visor. Especially if we were used to PPE with a chainsaw, brush-cutter or angle-grinder. Now, the science is saying that we can see through the case for visors: as aerosol transmission gets higher billing on the risk analysis, so visors seem to just re-direct the micro-spittle rather than keeping it to your infected self.
Wait! So visors are out?
Not so fast Sunshine, there are quite a lot of categories of people who cannot wear masks. Let me re-phrase that: people for whom the risks for wearing a mask outweigh the risks of snagging a dose of Covid. Because risk is severity X likelihood and tbf in Ireland, at the moment, 0.11% about 1 person in 1000 is transmitting SARS-CoV2. Which is <1/10th the rate in Mississippi. That's the likelihood. And young people especially will be factoring in the 80% asymptomatic cliché which is still circulating since Wuhan. To whom should we give a pass for masks?
- Breathing difficulties: asthma, emphysema, COPD, lung-cancer [if you have acute bronchitis you should be home in bed]
- Special needs: needs help removing mask, cerebral palsy
- Facial trauma. And no, beards don't count here.
- PTSD, childhood [sexual] abuse <aaarggh! sorry, you won't be able to unsee that>
- Severe anxiety, claustrophobia
- "It's more than just being uncomfortable, it can be distressing to the point of being completely debilitating"
In a lab, accidents happen when some people haven't heard or read the instructions. There are a couple of solutions.
- Masks which show the lips
- Prone to fogging up: even if you have "proprietary material won't fog as easily as vinyl plastic"
- Apps that translate speech into readable txt
So we'll get there. heaven knows how, but we know we will. Compassion won't go amiss.