It's Fun to Know: The Demand for Surgical Masks
Visioning Future Demand
Crystallize your goals. Make a plan for achieving them and set yourself a deadline. Then, with supreme confidence, determination and disregard for obstacles and other people's criticisms, carry out your plan. -Paul Meyer
When you tune into media coverage of the swine flu pandemic, you can't miss all the surgical masks being worn by pedestrians and health officials in Mexico and other affected countries.
But if the pandemic hits the U.S. in big numbers... demand for those masks could get out of hand. Turns out that the official U.S. government stockpile is only 119 million masks - that's about one for every three Americans. And the Department of Health and Human Services estimates we would need 30 billion if the pandemic goes "full-fledged," because they need to be replaced regularly to be effective.
The good news? Many health experts doubt that the masks do much to help stop the spread of disease - mostly because people tend to use them incorrectly or sporadically. What does work? Canceling large social gatherings, frequent hand washing, and covering your mouth when coughing.