Mass Masks and Frequent Hand Cleaning to Reduce COVID Spread by Up to 90%

Wearing face masks in the community is now generally accepted as highly effective in reducing disease spread. Interventions that bring moderate benefits to individuals can have large population benefits. Seatbelt wearing is one such example. The use of masks and hand cleaning by the community can be like herd immunity after vaccination.

Physical interventions work to reduce the spread of SARS, flu and coronavirus. The effectiveness of frequent hand cleaning and mask-wearing has been studied by the British Medical Journal and frequent hand cleaning has been modeled by MIT. There have been decades of study of frequent hand cleaning by nurses and doctors to reduce disease spread. The hospital studies show the importance of more people complying with higher hygiene standards.

A British Journal of Medicine study indicates that combining frequent handwashing, masks and gowns can reduce the chance of spread by 91%.

Frequent handcleaning and masks are made more effective if a high percentage of population are following guidelines.

The MIT study had a simulation that examined how increasing the percentage of people who were handcleaning greatly reduced the spread of disease. Cleaning every 80 minutes for 70% of the people at major airports would reduce the spread of disease by 69%.

Increasing the percentage of clean hands by 10% by increasing the frequency of hand cleaning would reduce disease spread by 11-15%.

Possible compounding effects of multiple people using masks and cleaning hands.

Masks and hand cleaning have a compounding effect in that they both protect an individual from transmitting and being exposed to infection. The impact of this could be a dramatic reduction of R0. Instead of reducing the spread by 50%, the overall risk reduction within a single interaction between two people is 75% if both were following mask and handcleaning guidelines.

SOURCES- The Lancet, Risks Analysis, MIT, British Medical Journal, Github
Written by Brian Wang,

60 thoughts on “Mass Masks and Frequent Hand Cleaning to Reduce COVID Spread by Up to 90%”

  1. I agree. We need to test and isolate in environments where people can’t really practice social distancing. Its two and half months now and NY state just mandated testing in nursing home. Its like everyone is a buck short and a day late. The virus is killing 1,500+ a day. We need to stop playing catch up and get in front of the virus.

  2. Have to get it under one everywhere. That includes prisons, nursing homes, and childcare, or you will continue to have hotspots. Then there are sociopaths who intentionally spread it. Even potentially adversaries…though that sounds beyond evil. If we demonize China too much that kind of retaliation is not out of the realm of the possible. There is just never a good reason for abusive rhetoric toward another country, it accomplishes nothing good.

  3. If you have beds, people, masks and such for 300% of where you are at, then cautious easing except for the elderly, and those with fairly sever forms of those common comorbidities would make sense. Though I would like to see statistics on the severity of the comorbidities before I would sanction a widespread lift. If your blood pressure is 180+, well, clearly that is very bad. 160? I don’t know. Could also be very dangerous. Or maybe that only raises risk trivially. If they are listing high blood pressure for people with 130, barely qualifying, and it really does make a difference even at that level, then we may need another plan, because we probably have 100,000,000 of those and worse.
    I can’t see any justification for causing the exposure to the 80+ crowd. That could easily cause 15% or more of them to die. They will need more and better protections rather than less. And they need some quality of life improvements such as rooms for video conferencing with large monitors, and efforts to help them reconnect with their families and friends at a distance.

  4. Yeah, that’s a good link.

    Clearly normal sea water isn’t a complete disinfectant for human pathogens.

  5. I was questioning the efficacy of him using home brew sea salt mineral water to protect himself from covid, given lots of human pathogens don’t have a problem with salt water.

    He wont be the first to throw his life away on a foolish belief in unproven natural treatments. Poster boy being Steve Jobs.

    The oceans are a sewage treatment plant of last resort, sometimes first.

    DOI: 10.1128/CMR.16.1.129-143.2003

  6. We could place a reactor high above the Earth to shine UV light onto the surface as the planet rotates. With each rotation the virus killing rays could help make the world safe for non-hermits and non-recluses.

    It would be revolutionary, but if I were to name it I would call it Stella, or Sol, or some other mundane name like son, or seun, . . .

  7. By far the most effective action you can take to survive Covid-19 is to get your vitamin D level to minimum level of 30 ng/ml. GrassrootsHealth of San Diego is the #1 expert on vitamin D because since 2009 they’ve been testing their worldwide membership. About a month ago their membership had accumulated a total of 212 cases. Their finding was that the lower quartile with less than 20 ng/ml experienced 52% critically severe response from Covid vs only 2% critically severe response from their upper quartile with more than 30 ng/ml.

    In the last few days the nation of Indonesia reported a study of 780 patients with Covid-19 where the less than 20 ng/ml group experienced more than 10 times the deaths per capita as compared with those with more than 30 ng/ml. The “P factor” of this study was 0.001

  8. Again, true, but the slurs have different “flavors”. “Fascist” is used on someone that you dislike/disagree with and who wants to limit you in some way, such as imposing a lock down. It’s sometimes used to describe someone you believe wants to use violence on you for political ends. And finally, “communicst” is used to describe someone you dislike that is on the economic left. These slurs are vaguely related to their original meaning.

    “Racist” stands out because there is exceptionally little coupling with the original meaning. The lowest “bar” for this slur is that someone is white and usually this is sufficient, unless that person makes active efforts to “prove” that he/she is not a racist.

  9. Given the symptoms I would say have her get tested again. False negatives and all that.

    Three weeks in to CA lockdown I came down with a cold. Exhaustion, body aches, sore throat, modest fever, headache. I powered through it and was fine in two days. (zinc, acetaminophen). My immune system is good, I run, and I have zero co-morbidity factors for the CCPFlu.

    Was it some influenza bug that lived for three weeks in our home while nobody went outside? Hard to say but at some point i’ll get the antibody test. Both my kids had a minor dry cough, minor fever before I caught whatever they had.

  10. Doesn’t the word “racist” just mean that you have undesirable political beliefs these days?
    The original meaning may have had something to do with different ethnic groups, but that’s been abandoned for years in the way people actually use the term.
    See also: Fascist, communist…

  11. He doesn’t have one. He’s pushing the dissenter’s narrative as an excuse to stop. You know, the armed idiots gathering in public spaces shoulder to shoulder, spreading droplets as they yell like animals about their constitutional rights or something.

  12. Israel has required Mask wearing since mid April 2020 and Covid-19 cases have fallen in Israel.

  13. The shutdown wasn’t a containment measure in the strictest sense. That strategy never works because it’s usually partial due to assorted arbitrary political exceptions. Think Trump’s china travel ban, then later Europe except for the UK and Ireland. The goal was to limit the infection rate to a level that will not overwhelm local medical capacities. How do you think your coworker’s son and daughter would have fared if all the local hospitals were clogged with critical covid patents. When the medical system is overwhelmed, perfectly survivable conditions with treatment become a death sentence, that’s partially what happened in Italy. Do nothing and more people will die due to a lack of proper care vs people that would die even with the best care.

    Keep in mind, the population size vs. the number of hospital beds(<800k ~90k ICU). You should support all that is necessary to prevent 800k simultaneously critical patients, any excess faces bleak prospects. Covid isn’t the only ailment out there.

    I dont think your wife being positive supports your case.

  14. Locally N 95 masks are very hard to get, so most people wear ordinary dust masks. While they do not protect the wearer, they slow down and diffuse his exhalation and coughs and therefore protect others and that is good.

  15. Well, it would have enlarged the chip on my shoulder to the size of a boulder knowing that my little 125# Filipina wife continued to take care of our three children while beating this flu that has everybody so worried, while I worked full time before the lockdown occurred – shoring up my opinion that the lockdown was both late, and pointless. Positive result would have implied that the virus had spread earlier before actions taken to contain it – I’m about 80 miles from NYC. Note that a coworker’s 18-year old son and 12 year-old daugher were hospitalized due to an unidentified flu in February after traveling to the Levant (Preacher side-hustle). So, since my wife and kids had gotten over a pretty severe cold, which barely gave me a stuffy nose, I was REALLY, REALLY hoping that was COVID19 so that I would have had a real personal data-point to back up my position that all who support the lockdown are fear robot pu$$ies. That is my position: that people who support the lockdown are pu$$ies. Now all I have to support that position is the CDC data that shows the median age for “death while infected with ncov19” is basically the same as the 78.5 year life expectancy in USA. Basically, I have to fall back to the published data and argue we shouldn’t worry unless you’re on your last legs – or unlucky. BTW, brother still wheezing going up stairs – covid19 recovery.

  16. Let us pretend your wife’s covid19 antibody test = positive, what exactly does that do for you?

  17. Update: Wife’s covid19 antibody test = negative.

    I was really hoping for a positive to shore-up my anti-lockdown position, but – guess that was just a bad case of the flu. We were looking through wife’s messenger log: sick on 02/01; recovering 02/25. Loss of smell/taste, 102F fever, annoying dry cough for 3 weeks, etc., etc..

  18. That wasn’t what we were sold on though ,right? We were sold on “flattening the curve”. So if you’re only using 1/3 of your hospital beds, you should be opening up. Otherwise it is bait and switch.

  19. that’s why I carry the bottle of isopropyl, & use it on both my hands & the mask when I exit the grocery store

  20. The mask is also for reducing the spread of your infection and that works even if you are always touching your face. BTW, not everyone habitually touch their face often.

  21. If we get the spread multiplier under one the virus will disappear. It is that simple. Getting upset because social distancing is inconvenient and ignoring it just increases the length of time we will be under going “social distancing”.

  22. FWIW I now carry a small bottle of 70% isopropanol to sterilize my hands, rather than rely on what is at store entrances

  23. You are quite right and you are correct about the fallacy.

    I apply this to the allegations of Trump being a racist. With the combined media of the USA trying to find *something* to “get” Trump on during the last three years, isn’t the absence of a smoking gun with regard to race a fairly good indicator that he is actually *not* a racist? Narcissist, for sure, but racist no way….

  24. Still waiting on wife’s quest diagnostics antibody test results… backlog.

    I typically disparage millennials because they are soft. Sounds like millennials should be in favor of ending the lockdown with news like this (about Roosevelt crew), but alas, they have not yet reached the age where they reason for themselves. They still look to mommy and daddy, MSM and Bernie Sanders to tell them what to think.

    ” , 1,102 -19, , . . .”

    In case you find that excerpt hard to interpret: prognosis for young people = very good.

    Millennials are still eating the shyt that the older generations are feeding them (cacophagosis ). The mellennials do not yet realize the world is not run with sound logic magic from impartial elders… Time to join the process 20-somethings. Think for yourselves… This virus is no threat to you – not even much threat to your 55 year-old MILF mom and dad in his peak earning years.


  25. If you need a mask indoors you will automatically need to wear it outdoors. A used mask is a big fomite that should be removed carefully. Doning a mask is also best done with washed hands as you’re touching your face using your hands; especially if it is a proper mask that requires some fitment and is intended to filter air rather than just preventing you from spreading infectious droplets.

  26. Ideally we would have this layer of some kind of otherwise translucent gas, high up in the stratosphere somewhere, that could block exactly the most harmful frequencies of UV light for plants and human life, rendering the Earth habitable. This would sadly also get rid of the strong anti-viral and anti-bacterial effect, but we could make a lamp.

  27. You absolutely don’t want to use UVC (the kind that’s actually effective) to disinfect things at long distance in public places. This is not UVB or UVA, this is the UVC that is filtered out by ozone in the atmosphere. These devices are dangerous; you should not look at them while operating (causes cornea injury, “welder’s eye”, which can cause permanent loss of visual accuity on repeated exposure to doses that cause scaring); on skin it causes skin aging and ulceration; it does not give you a sun tan.

    What UVC is potentially good for is in enclosed spaces away from humans, such as ventilation ducts for air-recirculation. You want to block specific wavelengths of UVC to reduce ozone generation.

    If the air quality, temperature and humidity will allow, it may be better to simply not recirculate air; just blast air as fast once through as the ventilation system will allow and accept that air temperature and humidity will vary in accordance to outside temperature. Roofless malls used to be a thing in the past; if it was -10 degrees C outside it was -8 degrees in the mall, until you entered any individual store inside the mall which had their own ventilation system and climate control. If you were going to the mall you were dressed for outside weather anyway, with a jacket, or a t-shirt or whatever was appropriate so this didn’t matter.

    UVC is good where you can’t do something like that (don’t want to sweat like a pig at the dentists office, for instance).

  28. I disagree. Washing hands is something that you would have to do a gazillion times during a work day, whereas wearing a mask in the subway would require a very limited effort. It would not make sensor to wear the mask in open air, since the virus is basically not transmitted outdoor.

    Also note that that there is an effect from the mask which is completely independent from preventing the subject to touch the mouth with his/her hand.

  29. But you cannot assume an effect for which there is absolutely no proof? You could assume the opposite effect as well…

    Let us suppose that people that see a person with a mask thinks that, “oh, this person might have corona, I should stay away”. This effect would increase the social distance. But, like the “false sense of security” this is merely a speculation.

  30. No, it still matters, only it matters less than the 91% stated in the study. Look at my reply for “Barker” above.

  31. Why would wearing a mask while being sloppy be worse than not wearing a mask at all? Makes no sense.

    We see in the numbers above that even if you wear gloves this “only” reduces the infection rate by 57%. Presumably, the gloves in the experiment removes all virus carried by hand, but there is still another 34% (difference to 91% for N95 mask) of infection rate to “loose” by using an N95 mask. This must be from purely stopping aerosols from entering the lungs.

    You can also look that the difference between the a non specific mask (68%) and the N95 mask (91%) is greater than zero. Meaning, there is definitely a transmission which is purely from breathing and has nothing to do with touching ones mouth with the hands.

  32. But pickling works by drawing water out of cells, which kills bacteria. That wouldn’t apply to a virus.

    OTOH, NaCl dissociates in water, so maybe the chlorine can weakly attack the virus capsid?

  33. It might be possible to develop an effective device for continuously disinfecting public areas using UV light, but, even if possible, I doubt it could be developed very quickly.

    Ideally, it would located out in space so it would irradiate the entire world.

    And it could be powered by fusion, so we wouldn’t need to generate the electricity.

    And it could also provide visible and infrared light to keep public spaces warm and well lit.

    It would need to be very big though.

  34. The only practical uses of UV light for disinfection that I know of work only in fairly small volumes, not large public spaces. The intensity of the light falls off pretty quickly, and so is not very effective for disinfection more than a couple of feet from the lamp.

    Another issue is the length of time the UV light must illuminate the virus to deactivate it. For example, if it takes 20 seconds of exposure to the UV light to deactivate the virus, that is not good, since for two people standing or passing close to each other, the droplets can pass from one to another in just a couple of seconds.

    It might be possible to develop an effective device for continuously disinfecting public areas using UV light, but, even if possible, I doubt it could be developed very quickly.

  35. The ocean IS filled with countless viruses and bacteria.

    BUT, are they viruses and bacteria that will live in the human body? Those are the ones we care about.

    It isn’t a problem if we get a jellyfish virus or something that is evolved to handle high salt loads and 15 degrees water temperature. Stick that in a human and it would die pretty quickly.

    Make your salt water salty enough and it will kill off any mammal pathogens. That’s why pickling works as a preservative.

  36. That’s a fallacy: Absence of evidence IS evidence of absence.

    It just may not be very good evidence.

    If someone tells me there is a spider somewhere in my house, and I spend 2 minutes looking around and don’t spot it… well that isn’t very conclusive at all. I’ve ruled out a spider being in maybe a few % of the total possible locations. So that’s some evidence, but you’ll need a lot more before it constitutes proof.

    But if someone tells me there is a full sized African Elephant somewhere in my house, and I spend 2 minutes looking around… well I can just about rule out any chance that it is hiding behind the fridge or something.

    Absence of evidence can be very good evidence, it just depends on what fraction of the possibility space has been investigated.

  37. Wasnt there a company producing far UV light fixture or malls and other public locations featured here on NBF a few months ago? Their tech was supposed to be able to basically kill all bacteria and viruses…..i thought

    All this scrubbing and mask wearing will cause everyones immune system to weaken.

  38. The ocean contains a lot of sea salt, minerals and water. That doesn’t stop the oceans from being infested with all kinds of dangerous pathogens. There are an estimated 10^30 viruses in the ocean comprising ~200,000 species, why doesn’t your natural disinfectant formula kill them?

    Always keep in mind, stupidity is, always has been and always will be an evolutionary dead end.

  39. You perfectly do. Your problem is that you are trained to believe that only products made by pharmaceutical companies have a stamp of approval for effectiveness, unfortunately pharmaceuticals see no value in selling mineral water and sea salt.

  40. …sea salt and mineral water…cannot think of a healthier disinfectant

    I sincerely hope I’m misunderstanding your meaning.

  41. People aren’t exactly on lock down, only non-essential businesses. Plus, you’re jumping the gun, excess deaths due to un-diagnosed ailments doesn’t come until much later. Hospitals are being forced to delay or cancel certain medical procedures so they can focus resources on critical covid treatments-Triage.
    Recall the reason for the lock down?
    If there wasn’t a lock down there would be even more critical covid patents clogging the pipeline. Patients with existing diagnosed ailments will not be facing just delays they would be facing no treatment at all.

    There is no such thing as consequence free actions.

  42. Its not only this. The main issue is the “hand cleaning”.



    This is the real vulnerability. The mask issue is doable. I believe Americans would even wear a N99 if they thought it was otherwise safe.

    There is a study showing that using hand sanitizer pushes the “grime” to the edges of your hands. In addition, if you have to “press” down on the hand sanitizer, then you are creating ANOTHER point of shared contact.

    IF THESE problems are addressed, and I think they can be, we can reduce transmission big time.

    1. Contactless entry. No door handles, or you need to have disposable gloves at the entrance, that need to be trashed on exit.
    2. Contactless sanitizer dispensers.
    3. Contactless Restroom experience everywhere. This exists to some degree in the U.S. but we need this to be the norm.
    4. Contactless signatures; simple solution: you have to use your own magnetic pen to sign your credit cards.

    -If the above can be addressed I think most people would visit.

  43. It wont work. Requiring proper hygiene—much less requiring inconvenient face masks—would be tyranny.

  44. Would you wash your hands in a gas station restroom if you had to touch the faucet, soap dispenser, and air dryer button? Or just use your sleeve and get the heck outta there?!?

  45. The Lancet reference has something to say about backlashes: ”Finally, there are concerns that mask wearing could engender a false sense of security in relation to other methods of infection control such as social distancing and handwashing. We are unaware of any empirical evidence that wearing masks would mean other approaches to infection control would be overlooked”

    Yes, Lancet, but the absence of evidence of an effect is not evidence of absence of that effect.

  46. I carry with me a small Crystal Geyser 240 mL water bottle with a mouth piece that limits and controls the water pour that I have filled with sea salt and mineral water. I wash my hands with it when in public, no drops, cannot think of a healthier disinfectant.

  47. ”Too many mask-wearers pull the masks down to rub their noses”

    Maybe that did not enter into the simulation?

    Also there is a psychological effect – ”I don’t feel well, so I should stay at home. But I really need to go out, and I do have a mask, so maybe I will still go out”.

    Did the simulation account for that?

    If the simulation was ”put on masks and let everything else remain exactly the same” – obviously the simulation will show less infections.

  48. Too many mask-wearers pull the masks down to rub their noses or just to breathe easier. A mask is worse than useless if the person continues to touch her own face. And no, that is not “just understood.” It is a subconscious habit that will not be denied except under duress.

    Sad about all the heart and cancer patients who are dying because of the lockdowns. Excess deaths due to lockdowns are proving a problem.

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