Elon Musk says "less onerous" face masks are better than N95 masks, which experts recommend healthcare workers wear to protect themselves.
- Elon Musk is recommending not wearing N95 face masks, the mask experts recommend healthcare workers wear to protect themselves against the spread of the coronavirus.
- "N95 masks are a pain to wear btw," Musk tweeted on Sunday in a reply to someone asking for N95 masks for Louisiana hospitals. "Less onerous masks are better most of the time."
- The surgeon general recommended that non-healthcare workers stop buying N95 masks, as most people aren't trained on proper usage and buying them could put a strain on the supply for those who need it.
- N95 masks can block out at least 95% of small airborne particles and have a tight seal. Surgical masks are looser-fitting and don't protect healthy people from contracting the illness.
- While Musk's Tesla factories are working on making ventilators in case of a shortage, he also has been downplaying the severity of the coronavirus for the last few weeks. He called panic over the virus "dumb" and has been spreading misinformation on Twitter.
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Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is recommending people not wear the face mask experts say is the most effective mask for preventing the spread of the new coronavirus.
On Sunday, Musk replied to a Twitter user who asked for help for Louisiana's hospitals, which she said didn't have access to N95 masks, respirator masks intended for healthcare workers.
—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 23, 2020
If worn correctly, N95 masks can block out at least 95% of small airborne particles. While Musk seemed to say Tesla would try to send a shipment of them to Louisiana hospitals, he also seemed to be encouraging switching to a looser-fitting mask like a surgical mask, which does not protect healthy people from acquiring the illness. Surgical masks are typically used by surgeons to prevent spreading their own germs to patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are sick with COVID-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — should wear a mask if they are around other people. Healthcare workers who are treating coronavirus patients and home caregivers of patients who cannot wear a mask could benefit from masks as well, as the masks may help prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading through droplets.
It's not clear who Musk was encouraging to use "less onerous masks," but healthy people do not need to wear a mask. High-ranking health officials have warned that wearing a mask can do more harm than good, as people who don't know how to wear a mask properly can touch their faces too much and increase the spread of the virus.
While Musk has said Tesla factories are working on producing ventilators in the event of a shortage due to the outbreak, he has also been consistently downplaying the severity of the coronavirus over the last few weeks. Earlier this month, Musk said panic over the virus was "dumb," a stance he reiterated last week. Musk has also said, without evidence, that children are "essentially immune" from the virus, and he recommended a treatment which has not yet been proven to work.
As of Monday, 349,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide, and 15,300 people have died, including 473 in the US.