Old fragile person comes up with planned sacrifices for young healthy people

“Biden calls for nationwide mask mandate” (Associated Press via ABC):

Joe Biden is calling for a nationwide protective mask mandate, citing health experts’ predictions that it could save 40,000 lives from coronavirus over the next three months.

”Wearing the mask is less about you contracting the virus,” Biden said. “It’s about preventing other people from getting sick.”

“This is America. Be a patriot. Protect your fellow citizens. Step up, do the right thing.”

Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum — every governor should mandate mandatory mask wearing,” Biden declared.

Is it fair to characterize this as “Old fragile person comes up with a way for young healthy people to sacrifice in hopes that it might benefit him somehow”?

Given this example by Joe Biden, I think that I might have some leadership potential for the national stage. Whenever I am around teenagers these days, I ask “Would you mind staying in a cardboard box for the next three years? It might help me avoid getting Covid-19 and I don’t think it will be uncomfortable for you because it is a pretty big box. You will have Netflix and Zoom.”

A friend wears a mask while flying solo in his open-cockpit Ercoupe (when you fly a 70-year-old single-engine piston aircraft, is Covid-19 your biggest risk?).


28 thoughts on “Old fragile person comes up with planned sacrifices for young healthy people

  1. Masks for all but caucasoid cis-males. They are disposable.

    • If the masks only protect others then with your plan only white men(I think that is what those words mean) would be left. I’m going to miss a few women but otherwise I support your idea.

  2. Piloting while masked is beyond dumb. Hypoxia is a real concern for GA pilots. If I were FAA I’d consider choosing to deliberately restrict breathing a serious case of poor ADM skills and grounds for license suspension.

    • averros: He said that he was planning to take it off once actually in the air. That does raise the question of why wear it when taxiing around a quiet airport when it would be impossible to get within about 50′ of anyone else.

    • Right – a huge problem. All those Helicopter Air Ambulance pilots are suffering from hypoxia. Cannot believe the FAA isn’t fixing this right away. Make sure that you tell the EMS guys not to call the helicopter!

    • LinePilot… I guess you never had an encounter with hypoxia in an unpressurised a/c. I had, when oxy connector fell out of the socket at 17000. It’s nothing to be cavalier about. (I also lnow somebody who unexpectedly got full-blown altitude sickness at 8000. You never know what will get you, and these stupid masks do decrease oxygen content in inhaled air by 2-5% if you wear them properly. If you don’t fit them properly, you can just as well not wear anything, as anyone who actually had training in biosafety will tell you.)

    • Averros – big “duh” on the hypoxia when your oxygen gets shut off at 17,000. I’m talking about your repeated hypoxia warning for people wearing masks. And again – hundreds of HAA pilots are wearing them every day for their entire flights… and medical personnel all day at every hospital. Surgical teams for decades and decades. Just stop it.

    • LinePilot – the medevac helicopters generally don’t fly at any appreciable altitudes. For a good reason, too – even mild hypoxia could have severe health consequences for the patient who is struggling to stay alive.

      Talking about piloting, even mild hypoxia does reduce mental and visual acuity and increases error rates and reaction time. FAA recommends use of supplemental oxygen at 6000ft when flying at night, for example: https://www.faa.gov/pilots/safety/pilotsafetybrochures/media/hypoxia.pdf

      At 6000ft the partial O2 pressure would be the same as at surface level air with 17% oxygen instead of 21%, or 20% reduction. (The actual measurement you want is not PO2, but VO2, which would be roughly proportional given the same rate of breathing.)

      The properly fitted N95 masks reduce VO2 by about 14% (source:
      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26579222/). That corresponds to about 4000ft of altitude (standard atmosphere).

      Which is roughly what you get with properly fitted N95 mask on for a few minutes. So the way of thinking about it: if you have mask on, add maybe 4000ft to your pressure altitude to gauge the level of hypoxia you get. Flying at 10000ft in a mask can get you passing out from hypoxia even if you are young and healthy. Heck some people passed out from wearing N95 masks on the ground (and one man managed to crash his car this way: https://people.com/human-interest/man-wearing-n95-mask-passes-out-while-driving-car-crashing-into-pole/).

    • Just FYI – hypoxia is not really an issue for patients in HAA environments. Those patients are either on oxygen and possibly on a ventilator. Altitude and pressure changes do affect other stuff… I don’t have time right now to check all the details of the study you mentioned but I did note the following conclusions: “ There were however no changes in the maternal and fetal heart rates, finger-tip capillary lactate levels and oxygen saturation and rating of perceived exertion at the work intensity investigated.” So if there is no change in oxygen saturation it is hard for me to see hypoxia. Makes me wonder about those VO2 numbers.

    • GB – good point on the HAA accident rate… except I don’t think it has dramatically changed compared to past years so it may not be the masktardation!

    • LinePilot – what happens is that it’s kind of hard to measure actual level of oxygen which gets to the cells — the lactate levels are associated with exertion, not with oxygenation; same goes for heart rate. (By the way, I’m also a technical and rescue diver, so I by necessity learned a lot about physiology of respiration.)

      A common “oxygenation” measurement is SpO2, but that doesn’t actually measure the oxygenation either, it measures percentage of red blood cells with saturated hemoglobin in peripheral veins. It is also quite non-linear; the difference between completely healthy (90% or more) and “need to go to hospital, stat” (80%) is rather small. The reason for that is negative feedbacks regulating SpO2 and that it is only a proxy for more relevant arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2). You can have 100% SpO2 and still be severely hypoxic (for example from stagnant or cytotoxic hypoxia).

      VO2 is hard to measure directly, but it is the most direct measurement of actual level of oxygenation (it still gives only overall picture, but not, for example, amount of oxygen available to the brain). It basically depends linearly on oxygen content of air breathed in and out, and on the respiration volume. What filtering masks and respirators do is not as much reduce oxygen content as restricting flow of air in and out. It just takes more effort to breathe. Initially this is not very concerning, because to a some extent this is compensated by heavier work by respiratory muscles. The unusually high exertion level does cause the respiratory muscles to tire, gradually, so VO2 quietly drops with time (this condition is known as hypoventilation). This results in stealthily growing hypoxia, without much in a way of symptoms, until the judgment is compromised to the point of inability to recognize the symptoms. (This, incidentally, what kills divers going really deep – at high pressures the gas mix becomes really viscous, which like masks makes breathing harder and harder until you can’t breathe enough gas in to keep conscious.)

      The second effect of restricted airflow is that air doesn’t reach well into deeper parts of the lungs, resulting in lower gas exchange efficiency (this is also reflected in lower VO2 measurement).

      Hypoxia is only a part of mask story, the other (even more insidious) effect is hypercapnia (too much CO2), which also results from restricted airflow. Excessive CO2 has many effects, but the main one is that it eventually breaks down regulation of breathing (breathing reflex is triggered by CO2 receptors, not by O2 receptors… that’s why if you breathe pure nitrogen you won’t feel anything wrong until you pass out). Hypercapnia is also known to trigger panic attacks (another deep diver killer) and interferes with proper cardiac function. Like hypoxia, gradual onset of hypercapnia could be completely symptom-free until it reaches critical levels. The initial effect of hypercapnia is increased breathing rate, which tires respiratory muscles even faster.

      Note that breathing oxygen while airflow is still restricted doesn’t prevent hypercapnia (in fact, it can exacerbate it). Don’t ever use supplemental oxygen while masked in a surgical or N95 mask: besides increasing risk of hypercapnia it also creates fire hazard – air/oxygen mixes above 40% O2 should NEVER be in contact with flammable materials because it can lead to self-ignition.

  3. “A friend wears a mask while flying solo in his open-cockpit Ercoupe…”

    And I thought people wearing masks while driving around by themselves were nuts. I see your subsequent comment about the pilot removing the mask after getting airborne. Maybe he’s just another one of these “must wear a mask at all times in public, even when solo driving my car”, ding dongs.

  4. healthy people

    Except for those who are carriers without knowing

    to sacrifice

    Seriously would this even make the top ten of so called sacrifices we make to live in society

    in hopes that it might benefit

    It does seem to be one of the easiest ways to actually help control the pandemic.

    I will agree the thread here where there are times when it is not necessary.

    • Out of 17mil or so COVID-19 cases worldwide there is a number of verified asymptomatic transmission cases… and this number is zero.

      Source: Journal of Infectious Diseases, July 2020. Published by CDC. Yes, Virginia, the entire body of evidence for asymptomatic transmission of SARS2 is purely theoetical

    • Wally: You don’t consider it a “sacrifice” for young people to wear a mask. Fair enough. But apparently a lot of them do. Otherwise they would wear masks voluntarily, right? Why not pay them to wear masks?

      (We could apply the same logic to other situations. 60-year-olds could say that it is a negligible sacrifice for 29-year-olds to have sex with them rather than having sex with attractive same-age partners. In fact, however, we observe that 60-year-olds generally have to compensate 29-year-olds with cash and/or political appointments (see https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2019/01/27/willie-brown-kamala-harris-san-francisco-chronicle-letter/2695143002/ ). Old people could say that it is a minor sacrifice for young people to operate a supermarket checkout lane for 4 hours per week during peak times. Therefore the young people should do it for free.)

    • Bill: Maybe the journal that averros is citing is “Emerging Infectious Diseases” https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/articles/issue/26/7/table-of-contents ?

      (If Covid-19 is only “emerging” at this point, I would hate to see what it looks like as an adult!)

      On the other hand, one article in there says “Our study confirms asymptomatic and human-to-human transmission through close contacts in familial and hospital settings.”


    • Sorry for botching the reference (memory is fallible…)

      The article is here: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/7/20-1595_article

      Read the chapter “Epidemologic Evidence” and the references within carefully. Basically, most of the so-called evidence is from China, and as the Chinese article referred above clearly shows it doesn’t actually rule out alternative routes of infection (they didn’t even consider the possibility that the patients in question have run into somebody else with active symptomatic infection! Their unstated assumption is that their contact tracing is 100% effective and that all cases of symptomatic infection are known to the authorities – i.e. it’s junk science as it is. China is notorious for producing copious amounts of junk science and research fraud, as well as widespread cheating in academia.)

      In any case, if asymptomatic/presymptomatic transmission was of any real concern by now we’d see tens of thousands of unambiguous cases of that. Even if such transmission is possible (which hasn’t been empirically established yet) it happens as such low rates that for all practical purposes it can be ignored.

    • Thank you, that’s exactly what I was looking for. (I really did open a couple of the promising sounding titles in that issue before asking but nothing seemed as shake-you-by-the-shoulders definitive as you were suggesting.)

      I agree completely. It’s troubling that people just accept “contagious disease with no symptoms” on its face. It seems like it’d have to present symptoms to be transmissible enough to spread—like you’d expect a shotgun approach to spread, not a musket one.

  5. The great news is Biden can’t call for anything in the next 90 days! The ercoupe is a very interesting plane it may be one of the safest planes ever designed. Perhaps it is less dangerous than the virus.

  6. As you demonstrate, wearing masks to protect others is not particularly compelling for the average American which explains the rhetoric about requiring masks. Could it be that the complete absence of any national initiative to manufacture N95 masks (with vents!) can be partly explained by the appeal of telling others what to do?

    Situation with effective mask: Wear ’em if you’ve got ’em.
    Current situation with rag mask: Wear them to protect others. It’s your duty.

    When N95 masks become available again (if ever), will the sanctimony about wearing them for the benefit of others be at all tempered? Will Karens still frown when they see your mask vent which makes your mask more comfortable but exhausts toxins into the local environment?

    Of note: I see that, although they are expensive, it is now possible to buy 3M N95 masks.

    • Mitch: Masks with valves are already banned in the righteous regions of the U.S.! California was on top of this back in mid-April and they’ve hardly been bothered by Covid-19 since. https://www.forbes.com/sites/suzannerowankelleher/2020/05/26/why-some-cities-and-counties-are-banning-face-masks-with-valves/#48efe99a6d92

      In mid-April, San Francisco and six surrounding Bay Area counties stipulated that valve masks do not comply with the law requiring face mask wearing. Under a subheading “What Not to Use,” San Francisco’s directive lists “masks that have a one-way valve designed for easier breathing (the valves are often a raised plastic disk about the size of a quarter, on the front or side of the mask). Holes or one-way valves allow droplets out of the mask, putting others nearby at risk.”

      Over the ensuing weeks, the no-valve law has spread to many parts of California, covering a vast area of Northern California and its top recreational attractions such as the Muir Woods National Monument and Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County; Redwood National and State Parks in Humboldt County, Coyote Point Recreation Area in San Mateo County; Crown Memorial State Beach in Alameda County; as well as attractions in Monterey County and Sacramento County.

      Along Central California’s Central Coast, Santa Barbara County has adopted the no-valve rule. And in the remote Sierra Nevada, valves are verboten whether you’re visiting the Plumas National Forest in Plumas County or Donner Memorial State Park and Elephant Butte Lake State Park in Sierra County.

  7. Biden and the media do not say or run educational broadcasting on how to properly wear a mask and unlike in some other countries [1], we do not have Church of Mask Police to enforce proper mask wearing, so put a mask, somewhere over you head and call it a day.

    In all seriousness, what good is a mask for if no one is talking about proper hygiene or the media running 24/7 education on how to use them correctly and when? The virus is not in the air like smoke from BBQ cookout or comes out of our mouth or nose as we breath, it is on surfaces that we touch outdoors and indoors. To prevent it, use common sense like we already have for cold / flue and double on it: get into the habit of frequently washing your hands, not touching your face or others and sneezing / coughing into your arm and staying home when you are sick (and like your grandmother use to say, drink chicken soup i.e.: keep healthy).

    Here is the data that I want to see. In Asian countries where mask wearing was a habit even before Covid-19, how did those countries did with the cold / flue compared to equivalent country that did not wear mask? If their numbers are better, by how much? Is this data available somewhere that can be analyzed? This can help put some perspective about masks and if they help or not.

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_religious_police

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