In case you’ve been living under a rock, N95 masks are one of the more effective face masks to wear for preventing the wearer from getting COVID-19 or to prevent spreading the disease if you already have it (hopefully unknowningly if you have it). 

Lately on social media, folks have been shaming people who use N95 masks in public, believing the masks should be reserved for first-responders. These outraged people need to realize that maybe the people wearing these masks had them before the outbreak. Maybe they work construction or some other industry that needs them (like my parents do) and had an open box of them prior to the outbreak. I bolded open box because most hospitals will not accept donations of open supplies. There’s no guarantee that the mask is not sterile or has not had its integrity compromised. 

“WhY aRe YoU uSiNg ThAt MaSk? oUr HeAlThCaRe PrOvIdErS nEeD tHeM!”

Last week, New York Governor Cuomo shared an anecdote of a farmer from Kansas who had five N95 masks for his family of four and sent one to New York. 

Yeah, it’s a sweet gesture, but a few paragraphs ago, I explained why this sweet gesture is a bit on the futile side. It’s open! Cuomo will probably make whatever healthcare facility accept the mask for PR purposes and give the farmer an “atta boy,” but ordinarily the mask would not be “donate-able” because it was open. I’d wager the farmer just didn’t know about these policies and Cuomo was borderline virtue signalling, albeit for the good cause of inspiring people to donate their N95 masks. 

I keep seeing feel-good stories of kindhearted folks sewing masks for healthcare workers but I have not yet found a place in Vegas that accepts open supplies or homemade supplies, especially open N95 masks. 

If you’ve got sealed N95 masks, then by all means donate them to first-responders or healthcare facilities. They REALLY need them right now.

If your box is open and you can’t find anywhere who will accept open supplies, then continue to use them for yourselves and tell anyone who tries to shame you to pound sand.