COVID-19 Respiratory Protection Commentaries

Below are links to recent commentaries on optimizing respiratory protection against the COVID-19 virus and on modes of transmission that were written by Lisa M. Brosseau, ScD, and Margaret Sietsema, PhD, or by Dr. Brosseau alone. Select the title to go to the full commentary.

Respirators can be reused, but decontamination not well studied

In a pandemic, using the same respirator for 5 days, as long as it is not removed multiple times per shift, can help stretch supplies, but data are sparse on decontamination. (Apr 6, 2020)

Perhaps lost in the recent debate and federal recommendations on cloth masks for the general public has been the key issue of protecting those putting their lives on the line daily: hard-working healthcare workers as hospitals face limited supplies of N95 filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) during this pandemic.

Key to such protection are issues surrounding respirator reuse and decontamination to optimize use of FFRs, which are personal protective devices constructed largely from filter material worn on the face that prevent inhalation of viral aerosols by the wearer.

Masks-for-all for COVID-19 not based on sound data

The evidence does not favor using masks, whether homemade or surgical, to protect people against the disease. (Apr 1, 2020)

In response to the stream of misinformation and misunderstanding about the nature and role of masks and respirators as source control or personal protective equipment (PPE), we critically review the topic to inform ongoing COVID-19 decision-making that relies on science-based data and professional expertise.

COVID-19 transmission messages should hinge on science

An important mode of transmission—close-range aerosol spread—needs to be part of the COVID-19 prevention equation. (Mar 16, 2020)

Many experts in public health have, for very good reason, voiced frustration at the lack of science-based information they read regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This is compounded by sometimes conflicting recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But by applying what we know about similar infectious diseases and pairing it with what the data show so far with this novel coronavirus and what common sense tells us, we can advise both healthcare professionals and the general public on what steps they can take to minimize their risk.

And it's OK to say that we're still gathering evidence.

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