A new article by Business Insider claims that “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.” This claim is simply false. He never said, “I don’t recommend wearing N95 masks,” as the text would have you believe.
Elon Musk didn’t say he doesn’t recommend not wearing the protective masks. He said that, “We’ll try to get & deliver as many as possible.” He also said that, “N95 masks are a pain to wear btw. Less onerous masks are better most of the time,” which is true. You don’t need an N95 to go to the store to buy bread. Also, since people hoarded N95 masks along with their toilet paper, medical staff are unable to get them. That seems to be what Elon was trying to help with in that tweet — encouraging normal people to not use them if they don’t have to.
Unfortunately, we have some folks who would rather use the coronavirus pandemic to attack Elon Musk while ignoring what is being achieved here. Louisiana hospitals are now on a list of hospitals that may get some help from Tesla and SpaceX — and they desperately need it. Think about this question for a moment: If Elon Musk didn’t believe that N95 masks would help, why is he sending them? Critics may think this is a PR stunt, but critics will always have a negative viewpoint. This isn’t about PR. This isn’t even about Elon Musk.
This is a good thing for our state, which recently “achieved” the fastest-growing rate of the coronavirus in the world. This news came from our governor, John Bel Edwards, who cited a study from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Our state has the third-highest number of cases per capita in the country — behind only New York and Washington state.
“That’s a ten-time increase in seven days,” Governor Edwards said, before the number had risen much further. He also said that our state could run out of healthcare capacity within 7 to 10 days should the spread continue at its current pace. “There is no reason to believe that we won’t be the next Italy. We have the fastest growth rate of confirmed cases in the world in the first 13 days right here in Louisiana. In the last two weeks, our growth rate has been faster than any state or country of the world.”
Several of my friends work in healthcare and are on the front lines. This is personal for me. I hate being right — but I told my neighbors a few weeks ago it’s going to get bad here. Why? Because of Mardi Gras. We just had our festivities right when the virus started spreading in the U.S. I didn’t go — I’d planned to, but at the last minute, I didn’t. That may have saved my own life. Though, it appears I later picked up COVID-19 anyway.
So instead of attacking Elon Musk for actually trying to help and twisting his words around to make him look evil, we should focus on doing things that count. For those of us who have the privilege of working in the media, whether it is niche or mainstream, we can use that power to shed light on things such as people doing. If one doesn’t like Elon Musk, that’s fine — but there are others out there helping and making a difference. We could empower them instead of wasting time (and lives) by trying to make a villain out of someone we may not like or we may disagree with.
While we are on the subject of masks, I want to reiterate what the CDC actually says. Also please note that the term “face mask” is used and it is different from N95 masks. Click here for the CDC’s page on how to protect yourself from COVID-19.
We in the media have a choice. We can empower or we can stir division. Right now, lives are at stake — the spread of misinformation is a raging storm and we can either make it worse or spread truth. I am choosing to spread truth. This isn’t about Elon Musk. This isn’t about me or the fact that I admire him — this is about people in my state who will die without medical equipment. My friends who work in healthcare are on the frontlines.
The point I am trying to stress here is that we should be vigilant in spreading truth. We shouldn’t give in to the fear, uncertainty, and doubt while trying to hold our breath for 10 seconds and assume we are okay when we can. When it comes to information, you should always fact check it. If you need advice, follow the CDC’s guidelines.
Again, I recommend: Louisiana Is In Horror, Lack Of Medical Supplies Dire — Plea For Help.