On Respirators and Viruses, by Marius

I want to start off by saying that some of what I will discuss here is based on simple facts, and some is based on nothing but my own meandering experience. I am not a doctor, and nothing I say here should in any way be construed as medical advice. This article does not in any way constitute respirator training.

With the outbreak of the unknown virus overseas, I have seen a lot of questions about respirators. I hope to answer some of those questions here, just please be patient if I cover things too poorly. Most people are asking about what are called N95 respirators, which are also known as filtering facepiece respirators. The three most important things up front are that these respirators are extremely and importantly different from common dust masks and surgical masks, and only work on particulates. Common dust masks look very similar, but they usually only have one strap instead of two. They will not be stamped NIOSH N95. I will cover what that means shortly. Most importantly, dust masks are not rated to meaningfully filter the air you are breathing. They can help, which is why people wear them, but for virus protection they would be little better than a wet rag.

Moving on to surgical masks; surgical masks are meant to keep you from spreading germs to other people, especially with droplet-borne diseases, which again, we’ll get to. In the current context this is not necessarily unhelpful, but you would want to put a surgical mask on a sick person and a respirator on yourself. The takeaway here is please don’t wear a surgical mask and think you are protecting yourself. The third most important thing is that these respirators only work against particulates, meaning dust, bacteria, viruses, etc. These respirators will absolutely not work against chemicals or low oxygen environments. I cannot stress this enough: These respirators will not save you from chemical fumes or toxic gases (such as CO2), or places where there isn’t enough oxygen in the air.

Deciphering the Designations

With true filtering facepiece respirators, you will see a stamp from NIOSH, which is the government agency that certifies these kinds of things. Neither the CDC nor OSHA certify respirators, so be wary if something is advertised as OSHA certified or some such. The second thing you will see is a letter, and it will be a N, R, or P. The N stands for Not oil resistant, the R stands for oil Resistant, and the P stands for oil Proof. The third thing you will see is a number, and it will be a 95, 99, or 100. These stand for 95% efficient, 99% efficient, or 99.97% efficient. What this really means is the size of the particles that are allowed through the filter media. So, a N95 designation is telling you that the mask is not good for oily environments and will filter 95% of particles down to 0.3 microns. Of these, N95 and P100 are by far the most common, with P100 sometimes also referred to as HEPA, depending on the application.

At this point I have to address medical concerns. On the job, you have to be medically evaluated to wear a respirator. This is because using a respirator by definition makes it harder for you to breathe. Consider that for a time it was popular for professional athletes to train while using resistant mouthpieces to achieve the same effect in order to build endurance. When wearing a respirator, you are putting more strain on your lungs and heart, so plan your activity level accordingly. You may have noticed that some N95 masks come with valves, those models are designed to make it easier to breathe. There are trade-offs though, which I’ll get to.

One of the problems with respirators is that not every style is going to fit every person. Even further, N95’s tend to be one-size-fits all, but I have seen specific small sizes. Trying on respirators can be like fitting for hiking boots, in that you may have to try several different brands to find one that works for your anatomy. There are two ways to determine if a respirator is actually working. The first is called quantitative, where a machine compares dust levels inside your mask to levels outside. Unfortunately, said machines cost upwards of $10,000 and I can all but guarantee you won’t have one sitting on a shelf.

The second method is called qualitative and simply means the old-school bitter or banana oil test to see if you can still smell the test agent with the mask on. This is much less expensive but still unlikely to be around for easy access. If you can find some inexpensively, I would recommend getting some vials of irritant smoke for testing, as it is an easy pass/fail. Most likely though, you’re just going to have to pick a brand and hope it works okay for you.

In my experience, brands with strips of foam rubber along the inside, or at least along the chin and nose, tend to fit the most people with the fewest problems. Returning to the models with valves, they do make it easier to breathe, but you are introducing another failure point to the system. The valves are thin sheets of rubber, and it is not uncommon for them to curl and get stuck, so you always, always, always have to check the valve before you wear one. Additionally, any debris, such as hair, can get stuck in the valve and prevent it from closing securely, potentially letting in whatever it was you’re trying to keep out.

Speaking of hair, you’re going to have to shave every day that you wear one of these respirators. Any hair that contacts the mask will cause it to not seal to your face and defeat the whole point of wearing it. I’m sorry, but that’s just how it is. You can wear a loose hood with a device called a PAPR and not have to shave, but those devices cost many thousands of dollars. They are basically mini fan units that push the air through the filter for you, so your lungs aren’t doing the work. They are positively pressured, meaning air is always spilling out, so you can have a loose hood over your head like a diving bell, or like the old diving suits in 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Personally, I opt to just shave.

Hard Respirators

Moving past the disposable masks, you get into what I call hard respirators. A lot of people call these gas masks, just know that your civilian models are not the same thing as a real military gas mask. Anyway, the smaller versions that cover your mouth and nose are called half-mask or half-face. They are fairly inexpensive and available at big-box stores. The larger versions that cover your whole face and include a plastic or glass faceplate are called full-face. In my experience these sell for a couple of hundred dollars. They have the advantage of covering your eyes as well, but they are more difficult to use. Both of these types work using cartridges. The cartridge you want is our P100 from earlier, which is always colored pink-ish or purple-ish. With the hard respirators, you can get combination filters that will work against a large variety of chemicals and gases. For viruses though, all that matters is the P100 filter.

Note: Please be aware that unlike NATO-standard military filters, commercial filter cartridges are brand specific, with different sizes, threads and attachment styles. In short, without an adapter, you will not be able to swap cartridges across brands. Keep this in mind when looking at prices and supplies.

The advantages of a hard respirator are that you can clean it (mild soap, remember the valves are thin and fragile), they are much more durable, and you can easily tell if they are working. You can perform what is called a user seal to test the integrity of the respirator. All you have to do is cover the tops of the cartridges (disposable gloves work well for this) and breathe in. If you get suction, your seal is good. If not, then you have a leak. Next, cover the valve in the middle and exhale a little bit. If your mask puffs out, then you know that seal is good. If it doesn’t puff out, check the intake valves, one of them is probably curled up like I mentioned earlier. Everything we talked about with the valves on the disposable masks applies here as well, as far as debris and hair.

Coming around to discussing viruses, I don’t know enough about the current Wuhan Pneumonia coronavirus to say whether a N95-level of filtration is good enough. But I can tell you that N95s are used extensively in hospitals for contagious diseases. I’m okay with that, but you have to make your own choices.

How Diseases Spread

It is important to know how diseases are spread. Some diseases, like Ebola, require direct physical contact with infected fluids. Some diseases, like the flu (and I believe the current coronavirus) are droplet-borne, meaning that they are carried in tiny water droplets when you sneeze or cough. They generally have a range of five feet. Lastly, some diseases are truly airborne, meaning that they ride the air currents. Obviously, the flu does a pretty good job of getting around despite being confined to droplets, but it’s true that if you’re not around infected people droplet-borne diseases can’t just float into your home. Some diseases are spread by vectors, which means mosquitos, fleas, snails, etc., but that’s outside the current context.

Lastly, I strongly urge people to stay calm about this whole thing. It is still too early to tell how bad this virus is. It has a long asymptomatic transmission period, which is bad, and it is known to be lethal, which is also obviously bad, but much depends on the health of the people involved. If they were immuno-compromised or elderly, then this virus is no worse than the standard flu. If healthy, young adults start dropping, then that is a much larger concern.

The last I saw, the estimates were a few thousand infections, but out of a city of several million that is not necessarily a high rate of infection. The quarantine orders look bad, but risk assessment-wise when you have an agent with unknown variables it is only prudent to assume worst-case parameters until proven otherwise, and act accordingly. The Chinese government is taking this seriously, but the virus may yet fizzle out. As always, keep your eyes and ears open and your mind sharp.


  1. Gas Masks

    I’ve suggested the Czech M10 gas mask the other day in the comments section. If you choose this gas mask, check the filter color. White colored filters are good for smoke, pepper spray and other chemicals. If the filters are not in a separate, and unopened aluminum packaging, and gray in color that are charcoal filters, you’ll need to order these replacements that are rated for biological hazards. If the package is compromised, the activated charcoal filter may not be any good. These are only 2 dollars a pair, get many pairs of replacements. Use fresh filters:


    Inforwars is doing a great job of investigating developments. Mike Adams is a scientist, and has a qualified opinion. Listen to the last part of the show on Jan 29, 2020 to hear Mike Adams. Most telling is the information provided by callers. You may listen to the archives here. Rob Dew provided this link:

    1. Hey TR,

      Unfortunately I don’t know much about military gas masks. In the civilian market, charcoal filters alone will not protect against particulates (like asbestos), but they are often paired with the pink-ish P100 on top. If you know that the gas mask canisters will work against particulates, and they’re not too expensive to cycle through canisters after each exposure, please share.

  2. If you like I Need glasses a full mask and mask glasses may be an Advantage over half masks and if you use a face mask check if you could get one working with your glasses or accept that your glasses will not sit correct.

    Vaseline should form a seal for People with facial hair, the german Military accept this, i don´t know if this worls in practice with every hard respirator

    1. I chose to leave that out as well, but you are correct sir, for a full-face respirator you have to mount corrective eyewear inside the face-piece. In a pinch, I think you could manage with tape and a wire coat hanger.

      I answered below on the Vaseline, honestly I’ve never heard of it here. I can see the logic, but I can also see it severely reducing the service life of the rubber.

      1. I would advise to be very careful with that, i once wore in the army a Kind of NBC Suit and my glasses came of during boot camp.

        I overruled my Platoon commander, that the suit has to be coming of, NOW because my eyes were in danger from my own glasses

        1. I’m going to summarize for people not familiar with the situation, if you wear corrective glasses you can’t wear them normally with a full-face respirator, because they would break the seal on the sides. The fix for this is a wire suspension that clips in place on the inside of the faceplate. What ThoDan is saying is that his came loose and was in danger of stabbing his eye.

          1. I was issued sport type glasses-frame and lenses held on with a elastic type strap that allowed a seal with gas masks. I have been searching for a supplier that has this at a reasonable price,anyone know a supplier?

    2. 3M makes a full face respirator it is very comfortable to wear all day even in a very dusty environment (grinding inside of very old h.v.a.c. ducts in Manhattan and working in non ventilated cabinet shops processing m.d.f.) you can get over a full weeks wear when worn 10 hours at a stretch.

      You can also buy glasses insert that may be taken to your local optometrist and get your regular lenses cut in to.

      Further it comes with a snap on prefilter attachment.

      I use porous sponges with a light vegetable oil on \ in them. This works exceedingly well for keeping you filter cleaner longer.

      I sweat a lot and constantly fog my safety glasses but not once did I fog up my respirators face shield (outside of the usual donning fog)

    3. I checked a compatibility chart and I would NOT use petroleum jelly on my mask. I specifically looked at butyl rubber and silicone and both were marked unsatisfactory on the capability chart. The chart used a scoring method of 1-4 with 4 being the worst compatibility

  3. Thank you for this article. It was very well written and came with seal check info. A large amount of people do not know anything about how to check for a seal with a respirator on.

    Back when I was working on hydrothermal plants the safety guy gave us facial hair shaving guidelines and a razor before we could step foot in the working environment.

    Moustaches were not to exceed the corners of our mouth where the lips meet. Not in length not in width.

    Beards goatee soul patches etc . … Gone. You were allowed to have that thin strip of hair that grows under your lip as long as it was no more than 1\4 inch long 1\2 wide and was 1\4 inch above the mid point of your chin vertically..

    In short if you had facial hair you had to rock the cop stache or pull off the cholo (mexican gangster) looks.

    Several fire fighters I have talked to claimed to use water based lube or coconut butter \ Vaseline around thier masked to better the seal , decease razor burn , and offset minor 5 o’clock shadow… But this is second hand anecdotal info

    1. You are absolutely correct on the facial hair, I just did not want to bog down on the semantics.

      I haven’t heard about using Vaseline and such, honestly I would recommend against it because I think it would attack the rubber in the mask and degrade it quicker.

      1. The vasiline would cause long term problems on rubber this is why I pointed out the water based personal lube. It is safe for both mask and skin. Also the coconut oil that solid like crysco lard (sorry I don’t know the exact name of it…. My experience is in buying coconut based personal lube and moisturizer).

        I have personally used the afore mentioned coconut product on my mask that I use for work. It has a reapply time on it of about 4 hours under my working conditions with my body chemistry \ rate of sweat under my working conditions.

        I can’t say for sure it is biologically safe for infection vectors but it did maintain the seal all day and helped keep the skin irritation \ pimples down.

  4. Good article, I would like to enforce what the doctor stated regarding facial hair. I believe everyday it is becoming much harder for us to acquire N95 masks, especially Niosh N 95’s. So what ever you end up with wearing, a mustache and beard will make a good seal around your face impossible. SHAVE.
    If in a worst case scenario you only have a simple surgical face mask to protect you, always wear the colored side out, be sure to fit the metal strip snugly on the bridge of your nose. To make the mask tighter to your face take the loop over the ear elastic part and tie a small knot on each side, effectively this makes the mask fit tighter to your face. Once in a while the unit where I worked (ICU, 25 years) we would be temporarily out of Niosh N 95 masks and I would double up a blue surgical mask. I could usually still breathe ok through 2 masks. I’m not saying by any means these surgical masks are recommended, i’m Simply saying a lot of people in a worst case scenario this may be all they have, and there is a few ways to make them more effective. All of your facial masks are SINGLE use only, you can not take these off and then put them back on, you will infect yourself. Masks are only good for usually less than 8 hours of wear, or till they become moist from your respirations. If we are in any situation where we are actually having to wear a mask, you should ALWAYS be wearing goggles with at least side panels for splash protection. There are still better goggles out there to find, many good ones that will fit over eyewear and fit snug to your face. Research splash and droplet protection goggles. I believe nitrile gloves can still be had in quantity, wear these also. This is not a “one size fits all” for gloves, nitrile gloves should be bought in sizes and fit snuggly, this enables you to better complete any tasks.
    Except for your googles the other items are again, only single use. Be able to clean your goggles with good germicidal wipes, bleach, or soap and water between use. There are good you tube videos that show how to properly put on and take off PPE’s (personal protective equipment), an excellent one is by
    RegisteredNurseRN : donning and doffing PPE’s. This is a great video for people who also have protective gowns in their supplies. Learning how to put on and take off your equipment is so important to keep you from contaminating your self after wear.

    Our own government is about to make a very stupid move. The plane carrying close to 200 US citizens out of Wuhan arrived at a California air base yesterday, and they will only be quarantined for 72 hours. They have been given the choice of staying 14 days, which is the estimated time for incubating the virus, or after 72 hours going home. Effectively putting these people on who knows how many forms of public transportation to disperse across the US. They state there are 700 more US citizens to further be rescued from China. I know we all have rights (or used too), but in cases of a national medical emergency, this seems ridiculously dangerous. Or intentional? Forget any hope of keeping this with manageable numbers.

    The true test of our government will come when we have an epidemic raging here and they have still not closed the schools yet.

    1. TXnurse, when I read your comment about releasing these passengers after 72 hours of quarantine, I began getting ready to pass out torches and pitchforks.

      I searched for stories and I found one (https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-01-29/coronavirus-outbreak-americans-returning-from-china-being-held-at-california-air-base) that said that lab work would be performed on these passengers before they were released.

      Frankly, most of this is above my paygrade. Do you believe that lab work performed in the early stages of a viral infection will reveal the presence of virus? If it does, that would be a relief. If not, then I will begin looking for the pitchforks and torches again.

      1. I think you can forgo the pitchforks until we get more info.
        The incubation period is believed to be up to 14 days, so I’ m pretty sure blood work will not necessarily show infection in someone who is still in the incubation period. I just think it is a huge mistake to not keep these people in quarantine for the full 14 days until we have more info.
        The WHO has finally been given permission to travel with a team to Wuhan, by the Chinese government. The WHO will vote again today to decide whether or not to declare this virus a International Health Emergency, I will not be surprised to see them do this.
        I suggest for everyone to call their senators, representatives and ask for full quarantine, we will not be able to keep this in the box for much longer and we need to be able to gather more info before we let 200 people disperse around the country who may be in the incubation period. You can throw “manageable” numbers right out the window without more time to have a real grasp on what’s going on.

    2. TxNurse,definitely on purpose. Remember the Ebola infected that were brought into the US and sent to substandard facilities?(thank you obama). TPTB have completely different concerns and priorities than you and I.

  5. A recent Japanese evacuation flight from Wuhan had 3 confirmed infected, or 1.5% of 200 on board.

    That would point to 210,000 of Wuhan’s original population being infected, with 10,000 to 20,000 visibly sick, and perhaps thousands dead.

    The daily increase has been around 1.5X.

  6. My above reply regarding rescuing our US citizens from Wuhan, I absolutely believe they should be rescued, I just think they should be quarantined for the full 14 days for everybody’s safety.

    1. I saw an article that the evacuees were being quarantined at a base in CA, but I don’t know any details. If that’s true at all though, it’s a good thing.

      1. As far as coronavirus goes… We all do understand that it is basically the common cold yeah? True this one is a bit tougher on us but it is still the common cold.

        Last I’ve heard is it is around a 30% fatality rate… In a third world rural area… Which is to say that the best course of action and prevention is to maintain good health and hygiene. Most assuredly have proper p.p.e. but most importantly is sleep well and maintain health.

        1. The doctor doing the lesson on the Med Cram videos gives great simple but accurate explanations about how Corona virus diseases kill, doing a sketch to show how through ruining your lung alveoli your blood cannot get oxygen anymore. It’s little different process than runny nose and fever.

  7. With new surplus military gas masks often available for $15 or so, what about using those, that is how good is the normally issued NATO 4mm (?) cartridge at filtering viruses?

    1. I don’t know much about military gas masks, but CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) cartridges will filter out particulates. I can’t tell you the efficiency or the filtration size, but both the B and the R are about filtering particulates. If those are the cartridges you have by all means use them, my only reservation is that combination cartridges tend to be significantly more expensive.

      1. Marius,
        Quarantine is great but it should be for the full 14 days, these people are coming from the center of the infection.

        Military gas masks might be great if you can afford LOTS of the canisters, which can be expensive and they do not last that long.
        This virus will I believe be severe if we have high infection rates, and may not be under control for at least a year, maybe more. With new avian flu viruses you usually see 3 waves of infections go through a population, which can take one year to 18 months. We do not know yet what this coronavirus will do, or how long it will take populations to develop herd immunity. I hope most people find the most protection they can, for as long as they can.

  8. Stay with SurvivalBlog and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention [Millions of people rely on the CDC for >accurate information] for reliable information about this flu strain.
    Unfortunately, we will not have reliable and trustworthy information until American Doctors and our medical personnel gain some hands-on experiences with Coronavirus (flu) from China.

    What we do know: There is an UNTYPICAL response to the Coronavirus (flu). … At the >moment, the Coronavirus flu from China is NOT being treated like an ordinary flu virus. [Things may change in the future.]
    At this time, there are >numerous stories such as this one in the news:

    ~Thousands Trapped In Italian Cruise Ship Over Feared Coronavirus Cases~

    “Civitavecchia, Italy: Over 6,000 tourists were blocked on a cruise ship in Italy on Thursday after the vast liner was placed on lockdown over two suspected cases of the deadly coronavirus.”
    “Samples from a Chinese couple were sent for testing after three doctors and a nurse boarded the Costa Crociere ship in the port of Civitavecchia to tend to a woman running a fever, the local health authorities said.”
    “Costa Crociere confirmed the ship, carrying some 7,000 people including the crew, was in lockdown.”

    SurvivalBlog has a ‘static’ page ~Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic~ The page can be found under the ‘Resources’ heading at the top.
    +++This prayer is listed under the ‘about us’ heading of SurvivalBlog:

    “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” 1 Timothy 5: 8 (KJV)

  9. The numbers I see coming from WHO and others indicate an R0 value of 4.08 and a fatality rate of 6.5%. For those not in the know, the R0 is an indicator of how quickly 2019-nCoV spreads. For a reference the 1918 Spanish Flu was an R0 of 2-3 and the 2003 SARS was a 3.

    Be liberal with the sanitizer and take your vitamins to boost your immune system.

    1. In comparison, measles has an r0 of 12-18 (If I remember correctly measles is a true airborne disease). The only silver lining I can offer is that the numbers for the coronavirus so far aren’t as bad as some of the bad baddies.

      1. Because of the long incubation period of up to two weeks and unreliable and early data and information provided by media, and secretive Chinese government, it is too early to know what we are really dealing with. Governments, including our own, typically under state so as not to cause panic.

        The Spanish Flu at one point, mutated into a more virulent form, and was not an airborne disease. Early reports from a small number of medical personal in this country, suggest that it is airborne. If so, this is a very bad thing. The long incubation period where persons are asymptomatic, short lived ‘Typhoid Mary’ kind of carriers of the disease, the actual RO factor cannot be known, but only estimated. A possible fatality rate of 6.5% is more than the rate of the Spanish Flu that was about 3 to 5%. The Spanish Flu killed more persons than WW1.

        I believe this to be as serious as the Spanish Flu, and possibly much worse. The early videos from China, and Chinese government’s response to this are more revealing than any other information. They are in panic mode. I also believe that self quarentine is the best medicine. That is what I am preparing for, and fortunately for myself, this not difficult to do here in NW Montana.

    2. As a minimum, the Spanish Flu of 1918 had a death rate of just over 2%. Some estimates say 3 to 5%. During it’s peak, people were dropping like flies, and bodies were stacked curb side, picked up in truck, and buried in mass graves. The cause of death, or the numbers and names of person who died were not necessarily recorded. One historical account states the death rate was so high, that some officials, overwhelmed, stopped recording.

      Here is an excellent 40 minute video on the Spanish Flu of 1918. There are many:


  10. I spoke with a chmical engineer who flew out of China 16 days ago. He is employed by an American engineering firm doing work there. He says that the Corona virus is indeed transmissible before the carrier becomes symptomatic. Currently, experts think the mortality rate is about 3%, but this may change as time progresses. The steel industry in China has largely shut down, which will impact economies around the globe because of widespread use of Chinese steel. Think construction and auto industry. He says new cases are doubling every two days. The math on that is scary in itself. Quarantined cities in China have tall berms of earth piled in streets to block traffic in and out (they’re serious about this). The public health minister of the most heavily involved province donned full protective gear and entered a hospital…and got sick. Fourteen of HIS care givers….got sick. Chinese hospitals have been saturated for some time and have been turning patients away, making accurate counting of cases impossible.
    As a side note, American military units operating along side South Korean units usually have an American liaison attached to units on their flanks because they often will not advise the Americans that they are being overrun. It’s an issue of “losing face”. The American liaison is basically a canary in a coal mine, and can advise his commander that their flank is collapsing before the enemy shows in in his rear. It can be assumed that Chinese statistics may be suppressed for the same reason.
    Masks. If you can find them for sale still, Swiss civilian masks are excellent and come with two 25mm NATO compatible NBC cartridges sealed in plastic cocoons. They store indefinitely because of the impermeable containers, which are a bit of a hassle to cut open with a sharp knife.
    I’ve used them for applying epoxy paints inside shelter hulls and while using powerful solvents prior to painting. Not a hint of solvent reached my nose. However, spending 9 hours in a gas mask is not fun, and one must re-learn how to breathe. Jerky breaths put strain on the lungs….smooooth breathing in and out is the ticket. Worked fine for asbestos abatement as well.
    You may want to stock up so you won’t have to visit the stores.
    I would also highly recommend the motion picture, “After Armageddon” as it is based on a bird flu pandemic and basically shuts down the critical infrastructure of modern nations. EMP in slow motion. As more and more workers sicken and die, or become too fearful to come to work, coat is not mined and delivered to power plants…which in turn, shut down. Municipal water systems require power to process and distribute drinking water. These shut down. Since there is no running water, sewer issues are minimal, but the population now improperly handles sewage and other diseases come to the fore. Flies…crawl on the waste and then fly over your fence and into your house and crawl on your food, your counters, and your baby’s face.
    The virus does not show signs of mutating, so this problem will be with us for some time.
    I also wonder how these quarantined cities are being supplied with food, and how long households can go without resupply. Think about how long YOU can go without resupply.
    British Airways has suspended flights to China and US carriers are weighing this option now. Should have ended flights two weeks ago. My engineer friend believes the US government is not taking nearly enough precautions to screen and isolate people arriving from China. American companies relying on Chinese manufacturing (Costco, Walmart, Apple, Amazon, to name a few) will be seriously impacted economically. The US is also likely to downplay risks to minimize losses in the stock markets.

    1. “After Armageddon,” which you mention, can be found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtP80Z08lfg I was extremely interested in the survivalist movement in the 80s. The Soviet Union fell apart, and I pretty much lost interest, but for the period shortly before Y2K. It was this docudrama that rekindled my interest. I did not find one point made in the docudrama with which I disagreed.

      Steven Soderberg’s excellent drama with an all-star cast, “Contagion,” can be found on Amazon Prime, but it cost $3.99. Not only is it informative, it is also entertaining. It’s almost as if it provides a road map for the coronavirus.

      IMHO, both the docudrama and the movie should be considered required “reading” for anyone who considers himself a survivalist/prepper.

      1. Have re-watched them both in the last week. Actually have both on DVD. Very good food for thought and knowing things that you should have (actually what we have all been doing for years that are loyal to this site) on hand. I’m sorry to say that I am very pessimistic about the outcome on this. My husband is disabled combined with other health issues and due to bad choices in earlier years, I’m not far behind.

        I’m making lists and double checking what we have on hand to go into “isolation mode”. Honestly, I’m just not sure if it is completely possible with required doctor visits that are coming up. We live in a rural area but must travel into larger cities for the specialists visits. I have read several articles and accessed links in various comments that with the coming of spring this virus could really explode regarding infections/transmissions. That is when the specialists appointments are scheduled.

        This really couldn’t have come at a worse time here in the US as most of us are waiting on gardening weather. So unfortunately, we are relying on the fresh veggies from the local store.

        At this point, all I can do is pray for guidance and direction, wisdom to see the dangers. I want to thank everyone for posting on this challenge. I have always gained knowledge from our community here!

  11. We have known about this virus for about two weeks. But the Chinese have known about if for about two months. Either way can you and would you were one of these masks for two weeks and never take it off? If the answer is “no” and I don’t know how it could be otherwise than you are kidding yourself. This type or protection that these types of masks offer is only suitable for limited periods of time in a known unsafe environment. The problem is that the flu virus is very virulent and if there is an outbreak it will be everywhere and you cannot hide from it.

    1. This is another reason to relocate. I’m in the woods in Montana where there are few people, and the cold weather kills offs this kind of virus. No one will be knocking on my door either. There are places to rent out here. Leave the city and take a rental ans self quarantine. This can be done by many person if they so choose to do so.

  12. Excellent article on respirators following yesterday’s article on masks.

    Given the shortages we keep hearing about, what would be the thing to do in a worse-case scenario where we have a 1918-style epidemic, workers are all staying home, deliveries are not happening, and people just can’t get replacement masks and filters? What would the the best DIY mask to use for taking care of sick ones in a home quarantine room?

    In another topic, WHO hasn’t issued any sort of statistics yet as far as RO’s or mortality rates. They are meeting today at 13:30 Geneva time. They have been historically slow at issuing global health alerts so it will be interesting to see what comes of today’s meeting.

    Below is a link to the timeline of the SARS coronavirus outbreak back in 2003. It makes for interesting reading to see how easily these things spread. So far the numbers are showing that this Wuhan coronavirus spreads much more easily than SARS and therefore more quickly as well.


    1. Well St funogas if your looking and talking about home made bio containment style suits you’d be looking at a “plauge doctor” set up. Given that we are talking about a semi airborne (water droplet) transmission… Stuffing the “nose” of the plauge doc head piece with Polly-fill (pillow stuffing) packed as tight as you could breath through …. And keeping people at a distance would greatly reduce exposure.

      But given that proper build tested and proven p.p.e. is still sitting on the shelf…. Best options are always …. Well best.

      1. You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men… it’s always best to have a Plan C. Mice, fire, thieves, plague #2, who knows what could happen to the PPE.

        Thanks for the tip j.m.z.b., I hadn’t heard of plague doctors before. I wonder if Amazon sells those beaked masks? 🙂

        1. They do… Costume only though. They were super popular in the goth \ rave scene a while ago then got a popularity boost with the tv show 13 monkeys.

          So there are many many d.i.y. articles and videos on the mask construction. As for the pants and coat waxing is easily done by heating the garment and applying warm or melted wax.

          But it should be stated again that it’s really not an ideal set up.

  13. There is a hospital in Orange County,CA, IIRC, that is setting up a triage tent outside the hospital in anticipation of infected Americans coming in from China.

    Those of us in rural parts of the country don’t have as much to worry about when it comes to getting sick, but my concern is more for when the trucks stop running. We only have two supermarkets in town, plus three Dollar Generals and a Dollar Tree. If word gets out than nothing is coming in, they’ll be stripped bare in no time. I think that would be the norm in many parts of the country, should that occur.

  14. Re. Children. Per FDA: “N95 respirators are not designed for children because a proper fit cannot be achieved.” CDC states ‘all respirators’.

    Can anyone find a link to exactly what the government DOES RECOMMEND for children?

    PM 2.5 (2.5 micron) dust masks (with replaceable filters) are available for children. There may be better solutions.

    1. Montana Guy
      Re: I have never seen particulate respirators made for children. Kimberly Clark Medical supplies does make a Niosh N95 flat folding mask in regular and small. But if this is a very young person it would not fit them. When we get fit tested at the hospital every year in this brand the smalls are usually for people who did not pass in the regular size, who have slightly smaller faces.

      Finally had a laugh today reading your vasectomy line! Thanks

      1. There is one paramount thing to keep in mind in all of this Coronavirus discussion: governments, not matter their political bent lie to their populace when the news is bad. Or they feel can cause a panic. Something us preppers/survivalists should keep in mind.

  15. re. facial hair and respirators

    A simple solution might be to keep a shaving kit in your preps. Honestly, we are not talking vasectomy here, shaving is a reversible procedure..

  16. I pray for us all in this country. I’m really worried about the countries in Africa, between their civil wars, Ebola, HIV, poor living conditions for most and poor health care this could be devastating.

  17. Well.

    We actually just back from having the poodle get a body shave at the groomers .

    Thanks for the tips on vaseline, masks, filters. I have plastic sheets, painter tape and masks so the dog is gonna be protected for its owner when we hand it back to her, nekkid but WuFlu clean inside a big bubble.

    Seriously folks, we have beefed up our preexisting pandemic supplies over the past two weeks and hope you all are too.

    Now reading my hard copy of Nuclear, Biologocal, and Chemical Survival Family.

    And for all those comments about masks not working, we get your point BUT it’s still better than Unmasked exposure.

    Thanks for all the many postings about mask type and efficacy. I do appreciate it and take it to heart.

    If I could get Tunnel Rabbits location I would load up my 1.6 long tons of gear on our GOOD truck/RV trailer combo and spend a few months up there learning many things about ballistics and radio.

    On YOUTUBE there is a Medcram set of short medical videos that seem very beneficial.

    One on ARDS is excellent, showing the mechanism in alveoli that kill via Coronavirus, and another on Ventilators to keep critical ARD victim alive.

    In summation of how to keep ARD patients alive, a simple technique reduces mortality rate from 31% down to 16%: placing patients on the Stomachs instead of Backs, for about 17 hours per day. I was amazed.

    God Bless, and place your trust in the Lord of Hosts.

  18. Back in 2006 I started doing consulting for a supply chain company (on the side) for Pandemic Planning, I gave several presentations at Supply Chain Conventions and published a report. I used the Spanish Flu 1918 as one example and talked about how H5N1 avian flu, if it became more infectious with the current case fatality rate (63% at the time) how it would affect the general supply chain of all goods going anywhere. The logistics of this type of pandemic are enormous. Basically everything stops….just like an EMP would stop everything. Hospitals would be over run within days, people would stop going to work, food would disappear……you get the rest. The scary thing for me was after my presentation I had an Army Colonel come up and introduce herself, gave me her card, and asked if she could have my slide show and presentation. Literally it blew my mind, I told her I was hoping the government would be way ahead of me. She said we are starting to work on this! I gave her my permission to use whatever she wanted, but it scared me that she would need it.
    The Spanish Flu did have a CFR of only 2%, but number of deaths are estimated anywhere from 50 million all the way up to 100 million, and this is when people crossed the oceans in boats! Now we can spread anything around the world though major airport hubs in about 48 hours.

    1. Diseases with a high fatality rate tend to be shorter lived as it kills off it’s host before they can spread the bug around. It’s too early to say what this is, yet intuitively we might know that it has the potential to be as bad, or a bit worse than the Spanish Flu, and that is very bad new. If is air borne, we got a very serious problem to deal with. I prepare as if it is. A lower, or relatively modest kill rate, along with longer incubation period may kill, and infect many more persons throughout it course, rather than a bug that has a high death rate, and a low infection rate, thus a short life span. These ‘bugs’ have a strong history of mutating, and usually become more virulent. Don’t let comparisons to SARS, or other similar infectious diseases with high death rates make you less vigilant.

      And yes, we should factor in the effect that a Spanish Flu equivalent disease might have on our fragile, high tech economy, and the teetering financial system behind it . This may ,or may not be the proverbial Black Swan event. However, better safe than sorry, and as preppers we are better prepared than most. There is still time to make important improvement in readiness. Costco and other suppliers of bulk and long term storage foods are already being hit with the first wave of ‘last minute ‘ buying. Panic buying is next. I would get personal protective gear first, and then top off the food, and then the ammo, then fuel, and so forth… My guess is that we have until at least mid spring before it explodes first in China, and then elsewhere. As it begins to first ‘peak’ in China, death rates will skyrocket, the news, severely censored as it will be, will likely create great uncertainty in the financial markets. It will peak in different counties at different times, so the bad news will be keep coming. A ‘peak’ might last 30 to 60 days, and if conditions are right, a second wave is possible, as it can mutate and infect those who were strong enough to resist death or infection from the first strain.

      Because warmer and moist air in populous cities are the best ‘petri dishes’, my guess is that it will begin to peak in the southern and coastal U.S.cities with those condition first, starting in early or mid summer, depending on location, and this year’s summer weather. It would be a ‘bummer’ to live in Southern California that also has a huge Chinese population concentrated just outside of LA. Southern California has the largest population, and homeless population, with weather conditions that is very beneficial and conducive for such a virus that is similar to the Spanish Flu.

    2. Hey TXnurse, I think many of us would be interested in seeing some sort of a version of your presentation concerning the supply chain on PPE and pharmaceuticals etc. Can you do a write-up? Is it as bad as we think? (And as a side note, just out of curiosity I talked to a pharmacist when I was in town yesterday getting groceries and she said unless a person is in the military, they most they can dispense is a 3-month supply of prescription drugs.)

      Here is the last paragraph from a paper just published an hour ago on The Lancet about forecasting the potential domestic and international spread of the 2019-nCoV outbreak:

      “Above all, for health protection within China and internationally, especially those locations with the closest travel links with major Chinese ports, preparedness plans should be readied for deployment at short notice, including securing supply chains of pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment, hospital supplies, and the necessary human resources to deal with the consequences of a global outbreak of this magnitude.”


      1. St. Funogas,
        My report is more than fifty pages, and I cannot type that much! I never took keyboard or typing and for most of my life I’ve been a nurse,and when we went to computer charting years ago, I just type with the 2 index finger method! Also I do not want to give myself, or the company away. Basically if this becomes a pandemic at some point with a higher CFR, then yes, as I stated yesterday everything falls apart. The whole fabric of society would probably fall apart. If you have been following the great advice that most people give on this site then you will be better off than 99% of the population. Mostly the fact that people will not go to work because of fear of infection for themselves and brining it home to their families. Example : I’ve worked in a hospital most of my adult life, we get a severe new virus circulating the globe. I decide I can still work and stay at hospital, many nurses and doctors do not (I wouldn’t either really, I understand the futility of that). Then we have the cafeteria workers who don’t come in, plus some in the laundry dept., the Pharmacy personnel are missing, and so on. Most hospitals need every ancillary department to function, patients wouldn’t eat, get meds or labs, respiratory treatments and so forth. Most companies need all or at least most of their employees to function. Imagine most police officers staying home to make sure their families are safe, this is when all civility breaks down and looting and killing begins to take place even with normally nice people, they will do what ever they have to to feed and take care of their family and themselves.
        Grocery stores are empty, trucks and trains are not making deliveries anywhere.

        Look on this site for an entry I wrote on April 19, 2013 called – A New Pandemic Threat on the Horizon: H7N9
        This was written about a new avian influenza, but is good info on this new coronavirus also.
        I hope this helps.

        1. My above reply about a past article, I would like to clear up one aspect: the article is good info on what you may need to know, but treatment for nCoV and influenza are different, such as you would not want to give too much fluid to a person with pneumonia, so please only reference other parts of the article and not anything regarding treatment.
          Treatment needs to be handled by a Doctor.

  19. Maybe I’m not getting it as far as everyone getting ready with “protective” mask. If the virus begins showing up here in America and if a person is likely to become infected by going to a restaurant or grocery store or church, then why not just stay home or at your bug out location if it’s different from your home. Isn’t that one of the reasons that we’ve been prepping for these past years? If the virus is going around and Americans are becoming sick and dying then I’m staying at my bug out location with my prepper group until it runs it’s course. Why get out among the sick and dying and hope to heaven that your mask will save your life. Common sense will tell you to separate yourself and your group from society. To plan on mingling with the sick with your marginally effective mask on your face just makes no sense to me.
    Also there has been discussion about our government letting Americans coming from China to enter here without a quarantine period. I’m pretty sure that this is true. I personally know a family of six who has just come back from China and who landed at XXXXX airport and then boarded another plane for a two hour flight to XXXXX airport which is in the city where they live. According to their own description of time events there was no quarantine time.

  20. I know a family of six who has just returned from China and who landed at XXXX airport and then took another two hour flight to XXXX airport which is in the city where they live. According to their own account there never has been a quarantine period. It has been suggested that a 14 day quarantine period would be wise and I agree. However it sure didn’t happen with them.

  21. Several of my posts have gone missing, and that’s okay, but I’d hate to loose this one too, so I’ll repost this one just in case.

    Diseases with a high fatality rate tend to be shorter lived as it kills off it’s host before they can spread the bug around. It’s too early to say what this is, yet intuitively we might know that it has the potential to be as bad, or a bit worse than the Spanish Flu, and that is very bad new. If is air borne, we got a very serious problem to deal with. I prepare as if it is. A lower, or relatively modest kill rate, along with longer incubation period may kill, and infect many more persons throughout it course, rather than a bug that has a high death rate, and a low infection rate, thus a short life span. These ‘bugs’ have a strong history of mutating, and usually become more virulent. Don’t let comparisons to SARS, or other similar infectious diseases with high death rates make you less vigilant.

    And yes, we should factor in the effect that a Spanish Flu equivalent disease might have on our fragile, high tech economy, and the teetering financial system behind it . This may ,or may not be the proverbial Black Swan event. However, better safe than sorry, and as preppers we are better prepared than most. There is still time to make important improvement in readiness. Costco and other suppliers of bulk and long term storage foods are already being hit with the first wave of ‘last minute ‘ buying. Panic buying is next. I would get personal protective gear first, and then top off the food, and then the ammo, then fuel, and so forth… My guess is that we have until at least mid spring before it explodes first in China, and then elsewhere. As it begins to first ‘peak’ in China, death rates will skyrocket, the news, severely censored as it will be, will likely create great uncertainty in the financial markets. It will peak in different counties at different times, so the bad news will be keep coming. A ‘peak’ might last 30 to 60 days, and if conditions are right, a second wave is possible, as it can mutate and infect those who were strong enough to resist death or infection from the first strain.

    Because warmer and moist air in populous cities are the best ‘petri dishes’, my guess is that it will begin to peak in the southern and coastal U.S.cities with those condition first, starting in early or mid summer, depending on location, and this year’s summer weather. It would be a ‘bummer’ to live in Southern California that also has a huge Chinese population concentrated just outside of LA. Southern California has the largest population, and homeless population, with weather conditions that is very beneficial and conducive for such a virus that is similar to the Spanish Flu.

  22. Important to remember even the P100 filters only provide 99.7 percent filtration. My bio’ prof called a virus “the smallest almost living thing” . It only takes one and you’re infected. If this spreads to the US to the degree it has spread in China avoidance is the best protection. Stay home if you can.

    Check out the CDC a graphic on their website. It’s a good bet the data on the status of the infections in China is provided by the Chinese government. To me that means it’s worse than they’re saying. Don’t look at the pretty map, or the number of infected/ reported cases. Look at the survival versus died numbers in the upper right corner. More have died than survived. No one outside China has died of the virus at this point. If the less than fifty percent survival rate sustains in the face of medical care available in the more developed world this may become a rough ride.

    1. RC21…tried to find that DVD graphic but couldn’t. Are you able to post a link for this technology-challenged oldster? Thanks

      Have really appreciated the information provided by everyone, as well as the timely posts/archive info by Survival Blog! Thanks…more than i can say!

    2. Also temper the China death numbers with location , lag in seeking medical care, quality of medical care recieved…

      Again this is a virus that presents with common cold symptoms so those who initially sought medical attention would have recieved the same care as one one with the common cold until they became very seriously ill.

      Now that proper attention is being paid to it we should expect to see the numbers change for the better.

  23. The censor machine is working tirelessly too. Public mood is constantly monitored and analysed by AI, with countermeasures devised to match it. Take the case of Li Wenliang. Li, an ophthalmologist in Wuhan, was one of the first to warn people about the new virus. On 30 December he messaged a group of colleagues about a possible outbreak; a few days later he was summoned by police and reprimanded for making false statements that disturbed the public order . Li continued his work at the hospital and on 10 January started experiencing symptoms of infection. On 6 February, his heart stopped. Several news outlets immediately reported his death, and the country began to mourn. I ve never seen anything like it on social media: everyone was sharing the story, praising Li s bravery as a whistleblower. Many said they hoped it was only a rumour, that he was still with us . And then suddenly new information popped up: apparently Li remained on life support and the hospital was working to revive him. At this announcement the previously united mourners split into several camps: some sincerely prayed for his recovery; others condemned the media s earlier reports of his death as thriving on human blood ; the rest of us had suspicions about what was going on and were furious. The mock salvation ended in the early hours of the morning of 7 February, which became the official date of his death. When you wake up hearing the same news for a second time, you may still be angry but perhaps without the same level of shock.

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