Cloth Masks, Wet Markets, and 5G Towers Top Our Coronavirus Concerns This Week

Illustration for article titled Cloth Masks, Wet Markets, and 5G Towers Top Our Coronavirus Concerns This Week

Photo: GEORGE FREY/AFP (Getty Images)

Coronavirus RoundtableCoronavirus RoundtableWe’re here to discuss news, rumors, questions, and facts about this pandemic as we live through it.

Welcome back to our weekly discussion thread, now named the Coronavirus Roundtable. Once again I’d like to hear what you’ve been hearing about our current pandemic, especially if it makes you go “huh, could that be true?”

Last week we talked about the controversy over whether public health organizations should be recommending everybody wear masks. The CDC ended up saying yes, if they are cloth masks. We followed up with some advice on what to know if you’re wearing a cloth mask, although the truth is that there isn’t much reliable evidence to go on.

In any case, the question many folks are now discussing is: how do you get a cloth mask? If you sew or if you know somebody who does, no problem. But for everyone else, you’re now trying to search out an item that suddenly everybody wants, but that can’t be readily store-bought. The CDC page includes two DIY options that don’t require any sewing. Our social editor Tim Mulkerin also tipped me off that Etsy is seeing a boom in their handmade mask department:

Search results for “face mask”/handmade on April 6, 2020

Search results for “face mask”/handmade on April 6, 2020
Screenshot: etsy.com

One thing: don’t expect essential oils to protect you if you’re using a mask. There’s a news anchor out there doing a perfectly fine bandana mask tutorial while telling people that lavender and peppermint oils are “antibacterial” and “help fight germs.” COVID-19 is caused by a virus, not bacteria, and there’s no reason to believe that dotting essential oils on a bandana will do anything to the virus. (Pleasant smells in your mask blocking out disease? That’s some 17th-century plague doctor shit.)

In other news:

  • The initial cases of coronavirus in Wuhan were associated with a “wet market” where seafood and other food items were sold. While a few news reports used terms like “seafood market,” the word “wet market” has now been linked in the public mind with the disease, and now with a proposed ban on such markets. And so it may be useful to know what the term actually means: dry markets sell dry goods (clothing, electronics) while wet markets sell food items of various types. Here’s a video:
  • It turns out panic buying was not the sole cause of toilet paper shortages, and as a result it may be a little while before the TP is reliably back in stock. Our finance writer Lisa Rowan has you covered for the explanation.

So those are a few things I’ve seen around. How about you? Spotted any misinformation? Have questions about what you’re seeing? Can’t understand why we’re not talking more about insert-subject-of-concern here? Let me know in the comments. We can discuss, and I may dig into some of the popular or intriguing stories for posts later this week.

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