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Alberta

Mask expert warns Dr. Deena Hinshaw mask use will not protect against COVID-19

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Chris Schaefer is the Director of  SafeCom Training Services Inc. in Edmonton.  He has sent this letter to Dr. Deana Hinshaw.  As an open letter it is also being circulated on social medias.  

Open Letter to Physicians and the Public of Alberta

Dear Dr. Hinshaw,

Re: Alberta Health recommendation that Albertans wear N95, surgical or non-medical masks in public to reduce the likelihood of transmitting or developing a condition from the coronavirus known as COVID-19

I have been teaching and conducting respirator fit testing for over 20 years and now currently for my company SafeCom Training Services Inc. My clients include many government departments, our military, healthcare providers with Alberta Health Services, educational institutions and private industry. I am a published author and a recognized authority on this subject.

Filter respirator masks, especially N95, surgical and non-medical masks, provide negligible COVID-19 protection for the following reasons:

  1. Viruses in the fluid envelopes that surround them can be very small, so small in fact that you would need an electron microscope to see them. N95 masks filter 95% of particles with a diameter of 0.3 microns or larger. COVID-19 particles are .08 – .12 microns.
  2. Viruses don’t just enter us through our mouth and nose, but can also enter through our eyes and even the pores of our skin. The only effective barrier one can wear to protect against virus exposure would be a fully encapsulated hazmat suit with cuffs by ankles taped to boots and cuffs by wrists taped to gloves, while receiving breathing air from a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA)  This barrier is standard gear to protect against a biohazard (viruses) and would have to be worn in a possible virus hazard environment 24/7 and you wouldn’t be able to remove any part of it even to have a sip of water, eat or use the washroom while in the virus environment. If you did, you would become exposed and would negate all the prior precautions you had taken.

     3.  Not only are N95, surgical and non-medical masks useless as protection from COVID-19, but in addition, they also create very real risks and possible serious threats to a wearer’s health for the following reasons

A.  Wearing these masks increases breathing resistance, making it more difficult to both inhale and exhale. According to our Alberta government regulations on respirator (mask) use, anyone that is required to wear a respirator mask should be screened to determine their ability to safely wear one.

Any covering of the mouth and nose increases breathing resistance, whether the mask is certified or not. Those individuals with pre-existing medical conditions of shortness of breath, lung disease, panic attacks, breathing difficulties, chest pain in exertion, cardiovascular disease, fainting spells, claustrophobia, chronic bronchitis, heart problems, asthma, allergies, diabetes, seizures, high blood pressure and pacemakers need to be pre-screened by a medical professional to be approved to be able to safely wear one. Wearing these masks could cause a medical emergency for anyone with any of these conditions.

Pregnancy-related high blood pressure is possible. More research is necessary to determine the impact of wearing a mask for extended periods of time on pregnancy.

It is dangerous to recommend, much less mandate anyone with medical conditions to wear a mask without educating them about the risks involved in wearing them without having been pre-screened and approved by a medical professional first.

B.  In order for any respirator mask to offer protection to a specific user, that user must be individually fitted with the right type, right size, if male – face must be clean shaven (only short moustache allowed). Next, the user must be fit tested with that respirator by a trained professional to determine whether or not the respirator is providing the user with an air- tight seal – a requirement for any respirator mask.

          C.  N95 masks – N for not resistant to oil particles, 95 for the percentage of protection – the lowest level of all respirator masks.

These masks even when properly sized and fitted will not protect against virus exposure, however they are capable of adequate protection from larger particles such as pet dander, pollen and sawdust.

Surgical masks (the paper ones that loop around the ears) – do not seal to the face and do not filter anything.

Nonmedical and/or homemade masks are dangerous because:

  • ●  Not engineered for the efficient yet protective requirements of easy inhalation and effective purging of exhaled carbon dioxide
  • ●  Could cause an oxygen deficiency for the user
  • ●  Could cause an accumulation of carbon dioxide for the user
  • ●  Shouldn’t be recommended under any circumstance

D. They increase body temperature and physical stress – could cause a high temperature alert on a thermometer gun

        E.  They impede verbal communication

F.  N95, surgical and nonmedical masks can create infections and possible disease all by themselves by causing exhaled warm, moist air to accumulate on the inside material of the mask, right in front of the user’s mouth and nose, which is the perfect environment for bacteria to form, grow and multiply. That is why N95 and other disposable masks were only designed to be short duration, specific task use and then immediately discarded.

So if masks are not effective in preventing illness, what is? How about the age-old tried, tested and proven method of protecting our health with a healthy diet, clean water, avoidance of processed, junk and fast foods, plenty of fresh air, sunshine, moderate exercise, adequate restful sleep and avoidance of stress?

We all have an immune system that can fight and overcome any COVID-19 threat if it is healthy and we nurture it.

Thank you for reading this open letter and letting me share my expertise. I ask that you share this with the public via media statement as we are all committed to promoting good health for all Albertans. If you or any of the public wish to contact me with a question or comment, I would love to hear from you. I can best be reached [email protected]

Sincerely,

Chris Schaefer
Director
SafeCom Training Services Inc.

 

COVID-19 – Are we too cautious or too careless?

Alberta

WestJet extends temporary suspension of international sun flights until June

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CALGARY — WestJet says it will extend its temporary suspension of international sun flights to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean until June 4.

Canadian airlines in January suspended all flights to sun destinations until April 30 at the request of the federal government. 

WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims said in a release that it made the decision with the clear expectation that as more Canadians are vaccinated, government policy will change.

He says guests with affected itineraries will be notified of the cancellations.

WestJet says since Nov. 1, 2020, it has been providing refunds for all travellers where WestJet initiated flight cancellations.

Sims says WestJet continues to advocate for the replacement of mandatory hotel quarantines with a testing regime that is equitable and consistent with global standards at all points of entry into Canada.

“Alongside an accelerated and successful vaccine rollout, this policy transition will support the safe restart of travel and help stimulate the Canadian economy, where one in ten jobs are tourism-related,” he said Tuesday.

“A safe travel-restart framework is the most effective way to support those interests and restore jobs.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2021

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Canada's world champion beach volleyball duo finally getting games before Tokyo

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CALGARY — Canada’s world champions in beach volleyball are amping up preparations for the Summer Olympics coming over the horizon.

The COVID-19 pandemic kept Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., and Toronto’s Melissa Humana-Paredes apart and docked from competition for much of 2020.

The Canadian duo plans to compete in at least five tournaments over the next two months starting Thursday in Cancun, Mexico.

The world governing body of volleyball, FIVB, created a hub of three straight World Tour events in Cancun to afford teams the chance to qualify for the Tokyo Summer Games opening July 23.

Pavan and Humana-Paredes booked their Tokyo berth when they won the women’s world title in 2019. 

The upcoming tournaments, however, are crucial game reps for a duo that’s short on them.

“I think Cancun will be a real test for us against every team because it is such a lengthy event, to see where we’re really at,” Pavan told The Canadian Press.

“Other teams are scrambling to accumulate points. Obviously we want to win every tournament we play . . . but to be able to take a very objective approach and just see it as information gathering for Tokyo is definitely a luxury.

“We are able to use all of these events to gather information both on ourselves and the things we need to get better at, but also on tactics teams are using against us, or improvements or changes they may have made during COVID.”

Toronto’s Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson also in the Cancun women’s field have essentially qualified for Tokyo based on their FIVB Olympic provisional ranking of sixth.

Canada can send a maximum of two teams in each gender, but the men have some work to do this spring.

Samuel Pedlow of Barrie, Ont., and Sam Schacter of Richmond Hill, Ont., rank just outside the top 18 in the provisional rankings. 

Calgary’s Ben Saxton and Toronto’s Grant O’Gorman are also trying to qualify.

Pavan, 34, and Humana-Paredes, 28, aren’t facing qualification pressure, but they want to recover their game form in the upcoming tournaments.

“Do I think we’re playing at the level that we need to be in July? Absolutely not,” Pavan said. 

“I don’t think we’re performing at a gold-medal level right now, but fortunately we still have a few months to be able to hit our stride.”

The duo intends to compete in World Tour events in Sochi, Russia in May and Ostrava, Czech Republic in early June. 

They’re also contemplating another tournament in Gstaad, Switzerland in early July to avoid six weeks without a match heading into Tokyo.

Pavan lives in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

Canada’s requirement of a 14-day quarantine for travellers arriving outside the country was a barrier to the teammates crossing the border to practise together.

Neither woman felt she could afford the deconditioning that happens during two weeks of isolation too many times.

Humana-Paredes headed to California on Jan. 2 to join her teammate and stayed there. She doesn’t expect to return to Canada until after the Olympic Games conclude Aug. 8.

“I won’t be able to go home until after Tokyo,” Humana-Paredes said. “That’s the mindset I’ve had to come to terms with.  For the majority of the time, I’m in a good head space and happy to be able to train and be with my team and continue to get better. 

“Sometimes I miss by people back home and than can weigh on me a little sometimes. Last summer was so difficult because there was so much uncertainty.  We do have a schedule to look forward to, a routine and things we can plan for and the Olympics are still on.”

Her boyfriend, Connor Braid of Victoria, is a member of Canada’s rugby sevens team bound for Tokyo.

Pavan and Humana-Paredes finished second in the Katara Beach World Cup in Doha, Qatar on March 12 in their first major international competition in 18 months.

The field didn’t include all of the world’s best teams, said Pavan, but the result was important for the Canadians’ confidence.

“We had signed up for the event, but we didn’t feel ready and we actually made the final decision to go a week before the event,” Pavan said. 

“We were unsure, but we decided to just use it as a measuring stick. There were some teams that weren’t there, but to be able to fight through that event while not being as crisp as we’re used to was good.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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