NEWS RELEASE                                                                                     April 2020

Two Crucial Factual Errors Relative to Coronavirus

There are two major misconceptions regarding the coronavirus

  • You are relatively safe if you keep a distance of 6 feet
  • Masks cannot protect you

It has long been established that viruses can travel long distances


Fine droplets or particulate with viruses can travel through HVAC systems and in the case of the Diamond Princess infect passengers who were isolated in cabins.  In just two hours a singer in a Washington State church choir managed to infect 45 of 60 choir members who were  practicing social distancing.

The fact that the virus is carried by air currents means that you would be safer one foot ahead and walking into the wind rather than 20 feet behind.  Since the droplets can remain airborne for hours there is no really safe distance.

There is a big variation  in mask efficiency. Wearing a scarf provides almost no protection.  Wearing an N100 mask keeps you well protected.


Hospital personnel wearing N95 or higher efficiency masks work in close proximity to patients who are generating millions of viruses per hour and yet they are protected. Viruses are less than 0.2 microns and could pass through the filter openings. But Brownian movement of these small particles causes them to impinge on larger particles or on the filter fibers. The N100 mask would be the most desirable but in practice the N95 provides a high measure of safety.

Comfort and breathability are two additional concerns when N95 or higher efficiency masks are used. The use of a valve allowing unfiltered breath discharge keeps the wearer comfortable but does not protect others.


Fashionable and comfortable high efficiency masks have been sold in dedicated Chinese retail stores since 2013. If everyone at risk wears a mask then there is less concern about the direct breath discharge feature.  Without the valve feature the general use of higher efficiency but higher pressure drop masks would not be practical.

New media being developed has lower resistance and may result in masks which will protect both the wearer and others. But in the meantime the mask with the valve should become the primary protection mechanism and not six foot distancing.

The various technology impacts are reviewed in the daily alerts which are part of Coronavirus Market Intelligence

Bob McIlvaine can answer your questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  cell 847 226 2391