Those Masks Won't Save You
Apocalyptic fashion accessory isn't effective against viruses
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2009 2:01 PM CDT
A tourist police officer, dressed as a Mariachi, wears a surgical mask as a precaution against swine flu as he surveys a park in Mexico City, Wednesday, April 29, 2009.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
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(Newser) – Chicago has swine flu fever—not the actual flu, mind you, but the pandemic of fear that has swept the US, Mary Schmich writes for the Tribune. Photos abound of Americans donning face masks to go out in public, and Schmich, calling around to pharmacists, found most fresh out. A Target pharmacist said she’d sold “at least 20 today.”

The mask hysteria ignores the fact that a respirator is probably a better way to keep germs out. "The surgical masks typically seen on the news and sold in the drugstore are designed to keep you from spreading your germs, not to keep viruses from getting you," writes Schmich. "Masks suggest something furtive, foreign. They come with a whiff of apocalypse. And they're not likely to save you from the swine flu."