The COVID-19 pandemic started to hit most of the world and the United States around March of this year. Since then, big consequences have been left behind by this unknown virus. The first case was reported in December of last year in Wuhan, China, and no one saw the great damage this new type of coronavirus would bring to the whole world, and the USA especially.
Not only has this virus caused a tremendous harm to the health of many people, with uncountable deaths and very ill people. The pandemic has also brought some serious issues in terms of employment, economy, mental health, and the healthcare system. Medical bills, healthcare workers getting infected and dying, personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages and scams, and so many others.
One thing that may not come to people’s minds is the safety of prison inmates. Often overlooked, the condition in which incarcerated people live has always been a controversial debate. But, now with a serious medical emergency going on all over the United States and the world, we must remember these are people as well and should be protected.
In this article we’ll explain the key factors to consider about this topic, and why N95 masks should be provided to prison inmates.
A brief explanation of COVID-19
The COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is the disease caused by a new type of virus called the SARS-CoV-2. This is a new species of the genus coronavirus that was first reported in December of last year in Wuhan, China. The first person to show symptoms and develop COVID-19 was studied and, when they found out this was a new species of coronavirus, the alarms began to ring around the world.
Most of us know that this virus causes damage primarily in the respiratory system, characterized by very broad and general respiratory symptoms. These include sore throat, fever, dry cough, generalized muscle pain, and loss of taste and smell. This is when the disease is mild, which is luckily the majority of the cases. However, even though only a small size portion of the cases progress to a more severe illness, it’s a considerable size when so many people are getting infected at once.
It’s a known fact that certain groups of people are more vulnerable to develop a more severe form of the infection. For example, older people, immunocompromised patients, people with any type of pre-existent pulmonary condition, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus type 2, or obesity, are at high risk of morbidity and mortality from the COVID-19.
N95 masks: why are they so important?
The best antiviral face mask we have right now is the N95 respirator. This offers virus protection that is higher than regular medical or surgical face masks. Even though they’re also a disposable face mask, meaning they’re not reusable and can only be used for 8 to 12 hours, they have a bigger filtration rate than regular face masks.
N95 masks are also called N95 respirators, because they are typically uses as PPE in a lot of work fields where workers are exposed to respiratory hazards that can cause severe health problems. They are named as such according to the classification established by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, or NIOSH for short.
This institution is a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and has the responsibility of regulating and preventing work-related injuries or conditions across the country. Under this responsibility, they have a set of standards that respirators meant to be used as PPE must meet, and at the same time, they classify them into groups depending on two characteristics: oil resistance and minimum particulate filtration efficacy.
So, under this classification, N95 respirator is a name applied to any respirator that isn’t resistant to oil and can filter a minimum of 95% of airborne particles, that is particles with a diameter of 0.3 microns. This means N95 masks are effective for not only virus protection, especially important during flu season or the COVID-19 pandemic, but they can also filter out other harmful particles like dust or smoke.
Prison inmates and COVID-19
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that is contracted when staying in close proximity with an infected person. All respiratory diseases get around better in conditions of overcrowding and poor ventilation. These conditions are met in the great majority of prisons, turning the inmates into a high-risk group for infection and spreading of the coronavirus.
According to the studies made by the Marshall Project, federal and state prisons across the country are among the facilities that have been hit the hardest by COVID-19. The Marshall Project has been tracking the data on the infections inside these facilities, showing a considerable number of cases inside them.
Their study shows that, by September 15th, at least 125,730 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus. The cases inside prisons, however, reached a peak in August, but the growth in the last several weeks can be explained by an increase in testing of prisoners in states like California and Florida, but also by outbreaks reported in Hawaii and Arkansas.
The prevention of COVID-19 inside prisons is a difficult task because of the overcrowded conditions in which inmates live. Social distancing rules that have slowed down the infection rates can’t be taken inside these facilities, in addition to inadequate hygiene measures, all play a role in these high figures. This is why N95 masks are extremely necessary in these facilities.
Personal protective equipment, including KN95 masks, face shields, and 3M N95 masks like the 3M 8210 and 3M 8511 models, are crucial for slowing down the infection rates in the country. There are many options for sale online to buy in bulk or wholesale, with great options for kids as well. Anyone who uses their protection gear will be safe, and will also be protecting the community around them.