And it turns out her mask is not pandemic-quality either …

So I was just at the local Lowe’s, because staying properly isolated during a pandemic involves a surprising number of trips to the hardware store on account of all the home-based projects that I’m getting done this summer, and I have to say that I am not impressed with their pandemic-control measures.

You can’t just declare a policy and then move on.

You have to actually keep track of whether your employees are going along with it and, if not, you have to actually enforce it.

(“You” in all of this being the people at whatever corporate entity controls Lowe’s, of course.)

‘Cause the folks at the Lowe’s here are not doing a good job of that.

Let’s take a quick tour of how the employees at this fine establishment are endangering public health today, hm?

In ascending order of “WTF people?!”-ness.

– 2 employees with masks that share a problem with the one in the picture at the top of the post.

Now, that’s a fine mask for dealing with dust or particulates, like those from a wildfire (which is the other thing threatening public health around here at the moment). But it’s not helpful in a pandemic.

See, that little box in the front is a valve that opens when you exhale to make it easier to breathe when you’re wearing the mask (and to help it not fog up your glasses). That means, of course, that it only filters when you inhale; when you exhale, though, it very much does not.

Now, I use a mask with a valve as well, but mine has a filter in the exhalation valve; most don’t, and none of the disposable ones do.

And most of the point of a mask during a pandemic (and the whole point of mask requirements) is to filter your exhalations so other folks don’t have to breathe in what you’re breathing out. In case, ya’ know, you’re an asymptomatic carrier.

– 2 employees with those stretchy neck-gaiters.

I wore one of these as my mask when this first started, though they’re kinda thin so I doubled mine up.

Turns out that was a good idea, since some nifty research with lasers this summer demonstrates that just wearing one of these without doubling (or tripling) it is probably worse than wearing no mask at all.

These are comfy and convenient, but you probably have to make sure they’re a thicker kind or doubled over before they’re helpful.

– 2 employees with masks pulled down below their noses.

Now we’re getting into the “this is just stupid” end of things.

Yes, these employees had masks on their faces but no, unless that mask is covering their breathing holes it’s not actually doing the job.

– 3 employees with masks, but not on their faces.

2 hanging loose around the neck; 1 dangling loose from an ear, looking oh-so-cool I’m sure.

Seriously, just ugh.

On the plus side, I saw 10 or so other employees with proper masks being worn properly.

So Lowe’s is doing maybe 60% effectiveness on masks?

Which is really bad in a county with 1.5% of the population having (or having had) lab-confirmed COVID19 cases, actually. Half of those are currently-active cases, though, so that’s a tad less than 1 in 100 residents being currently lab-confirmed infective.

And given the poor testing in this country, it’s quite likely that at least that number are walking around as carriers.

Which in a store the size of Lowe’s means it’s likely that several customers per-day and at least one employee are asymptomatic carriers right now.

So do better, people.

We’d all like this to go away without having to wait a few years for a vaccine, but that means:

  • stay home when you can
  • stay outdoors if possible
  • try to keep 10′ apart
  • wear a mask

And I shouldn’t have to say this, but one that actually covers your mouth and nose.

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