The Citizens Handbook
Better masks, and lessen public access for the unvaccinated
Charles Dobson

More transmissible variants require more efficient masks
Isn't it time to ditch the cloth mask and the leaky procedure mask? With the each new "variant of concern" more transmissible than the previous, doesn't it make sense to spend a little more on a good mask and to insist that others do the same? While wearing any kind of mask is better than nothing at all, most masks do not perform well. Blue medical procedure masks leak around the nose and from puckers at the sides. Single layer fabric masks leak like sieves. With ever more virulent strains emerging, we should be wearing N-95 masks that fit better around the nose, and do not pucker at the sides. These masks should be FDA certified since more than 60% of N-95 masks are counterfeit. The NY Times has published an article: How to find a quality mask and avoid counterfeits.

Shops, schools, and workplaces should post people at the entrance to turn away those wearing single-layer fabric masks, and leaky procedure masks. For more information see this December 2021 article and video on mask performance. Workers in long term care facilities need to be especially careful because heavier-than-air micro droplets from substandard masks will fall on patients who are almost always close and below the care worker.

Require vaccinations to access public places
Because Omicron is so transmissible and so many masks leak, governments should begin requiring vaccination to access public places. Individuals may have the right to refuse vaccination but they do not have a right to infect others.
Steadily increasing the range of places requiring proof of vaccination is a also a better way to nudge the hesitant into get vaccinated. When the Province of Quebec announced in January 2022 that proof of vaccination would be required to access liquor and pot stores, first dose appointments increased fourfold in two days from 1500 to 6000. Steadily shrinking the options for everyday life is more effective than pleading, and less heavy-handed than broad vaccine mandates enforced with fines.

Avoid populated interior spaces
Unless absolutely necessary, avoid places full of people: bars, restaurants, shops, schools, workplaces, gyms. If you have to shop for food go early in the morning or late at night. Research has proven the virus is airborne, which means it can float in the air like cigarette smoke and hang around for hours. Poorly ventilated interiors can harbour a toxic bath if one infected person contaminates the interior atmosphere.

Stay farther away from others and avoid puffers
Research shows that 6 foot distancing is helpful but inadequate. It is based on a study carried out in 1934. Airborne virus can travel much greater distances, while puffing joggers and other heavy breathers can spread plumes of virus if infected.

Demand rapid test kits
Rapid antigen tests can identify asymptomatic carriers before they can infect others, even though they are less reliable than PCR tests. The tests can be administered by ordinary citizens and results provided in a little as 15 minutes. Canada distributed millions of rapid test to provinces but local officials in many provinces left them in storage despite evidence they were able to control outbreaks in Nova Scotia. On January 20, 2021, the EU approved rapid antigen tests for all of its member states. Those in charge of schools, restaurants, factories and other places where people gather need to demand rapid tests from government and set up their own testing regimes.

Consider a sniff test when nothing else is available
One of the simplest screens for asymptomatic COVID-19 is the sniff test. Employers can introduce a daily ethanol sniff test when people come to work. Anyone can carry out a simple DIY test with a small bottle of unflavored vodka diluted to 25% alcohol. Experts at the University of Pennsylvania are recommending self-administered daily sniff tests as a screening system to control the pandemic.

Consume more foods that produce nitric oxide
Nitric oxide (NO) has been been shown to inhibit the reproduction of SARS-CoV-2. Recent research suggests that the body's ability to produce NO declines with age and may be an important factor in determining the severity of the disease. Consuming more foods containing nitrates helps increase the production of NO.

Quarantine the healthy and vulnerable
Quarantine is normally used to isolate the infected. But once a pandemic begins to rage, the safest measure for the elderly and the most vulnerable is to quarantine the healthy. Elder-care facilities that have imposed strict quarantines on themselves have managed to prevent the outbreaks and deaths that are so common in care facilities. People with parents or grandparents in care facilities should consider moving them into their own homes, where they can be separated from those who may be infected.

Pay attention to medical communications
Pay attention to the latest research on sites like MedicalXpress. Up-to-date information is too important to leave to cautious public health officials and overworked, ill-informed reporters.

Do not rely solely on government
Governments are poorly equipped to deal with emergencies. Bureaucrats are typically slow-moving, rule-bound, and afraid of making mistakes. Few are adept at creative problem-solving. Politicians face the difficult job of resolving the conflicting interests of a large number of stakeholders. Most recognize that closures are highly effective in controlling the pandemic, but are hard on small business. So, governments often abandon strong measures in favor of dangerous half measures. If they were up to the task of controlling the pandemic, it would not be spreading out of control in so many places. Because the recommendations of public health officials are usually correct but often weak; citizens may need to augment their recommendations with something stronger.

See also the evidence-based Better ways to control the pandemic
And see: Citizens needed in disasters

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