A Truly Effective Mask Wearing Level is 99% Not 80%. US Seat Belt Wearing is 91%

More public mask-wearing is very important to curbing the spread of COVID-19, but is 80% of the population complying with mask-wearing good enough?

Above the picture shows Mask compliance but no seatbelt. Getting to Hong Kong levels of 99% mask-wearing and other new hand and surface hygiene levels will require technology, ergonomics, policy and other levers.

Marc Benioff supports mask-wearing and says if we can get US mask-wearing to 80% then this would be enough to suppress COVID-19 spread in a month.

This issue is unfortunately a highly political matter in the USA. Democrats have about 80% mask compliance while Republicans have about 45%.

Wearing more masks will help, but Singapore has 90-92% mask-wearing and still has significant spread of COVID-19. This is also in spite of Singapore having a very hot climate.

Singapore had 8650 diagnosed cases per million while the US has 13000 diagnosed cases per million. Singapore has 500 cases per day with a population that is about 60 times less than the US. This would be 30,000 cases per day which is better than the US 60,000 cases per day. Singapore has much higher population density but population density does not have tight correlation with the disease spread. Correlation is with how many people are in the same house or apartment.

What is a truly effective public mask-wearing level?

The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine has an article that shows Hong Kong has 98.8% mask-wearing compliance. The countries with effective hygiene have populations that fully have lives with face mask use, hand washing and social distancing. Those are all important components of the non-pharmaceutical measures against COVID-19.

This means 19 out of 20 Democratic Americans also need to shift to mask-wearing compliance and 54 out of 55 Republican Americans need to shift to mask-wearing compliance.

I personally know people who live in the high compliance countries of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand. I can tell you that the behaviors and culture go beyond mask-wearing. There is also frequent hand cleaning, cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.

Twenty-five years ago in 1995, I worked in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The office cleaning crews would thoroughly wipe down keyboards and phones with Lysol. This was before SARS in 2003.

After SARS, the public mask-wearing in many Asian countries became standard practice.

The 99% level of public mask-wearing will not happen in the USA based upon public service messages and tweeting.

Seat belt usage in the USA ranges from 70-97%. The Nationwide average is 90.7%. This is in spite of seat belt fines in the $500 range, significant enforcement and cars that will sound alarms when there is no seat belt being worn.

US businesses have about 90-95% compliance with workplace safety. Occupational Safety and Health Administration had about 50,000 inspections and there were 524 willful violations, 3100 repeat violations, 43,000 serious violations etc… The extensive business regulations and fines have cut the number of workplace fatalities by about 65% over decades. This is too slow and not a good enough standard.

All stores in Northern California were denying entry and service to customers that did not wear masks. However, this is no longer strictly enforced even in the SF Bay Area.

There is an Asian supermarket in Oakland, KP Asian Market, they do not allow entry without mask-wearing and gloves. The store gives ALL customers disposable masks and gloves if the customers do not have their own. Customers are provided cleaner to wipe down the carts and items. This is the level of behavior needed at every office, factory and retail outlet.

American restaurants give out napkins and ketchup packets for free. Fried chicken restaurants give sanitary wipes. There needs to be completely subsidized PPE. $200 of PPE per person in the US is $66 billion per year. This is vastly less than the trillions being spent on financial bailouts.

Also, the CDC reports that the US has and average of $87 billion in business losses each year from flu and $40 billion from other respiratory diseases. Face masks, face shields, personal and group sanitizer, wipes and gloves needs to be more abundant than free napkins and ketchup packets.

Also, forget about saying that people are just not educated enough. US Hospitals have not had over 90% hand cleaning compliance. It cannot be said that doctors and nurses are not educated about disease spread. A University of Zurich Hospital study indicated that the ergonomics of personal sanitizer bottle caps discouraged the compliance with hand cleaning. Achieving 99% compliance means e everything about masks, shields, hand cleaning, cleaning surfaces and distancing has to be easy and completely friction-free. It needs to be free for the end-users. It has to be as ergonomic and easy as possible. Every checkpoint and entry needs to reinforce or require compliance.

People know how much effort and product (car) adjustment has gone into seatbelt compliance. This is still at 91% US-wide. 99% compliance is beyond almost any prior US behavior and cultural norm.

We need to use the best technology, ergonomics and policy. McDonald’s hands out as many free ketchup packets and napkins as customers want. KFC gives out free alcohol wipes for customers who get greasy fingers. But both do not give masks or sanitizer to customers. All governments, offices and retail need to give out masks, face masks, gloves, sanitizer, and wearable sanitizer that is fully subsidized for the world.

SOURCES- Twitter, NHTSA, CDC, The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Worldometers, Statistica
Written By Brian Wang, co-founder of Wryst (wearable hand sanitizer device company). Nextbigfuture.com