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Thread: The COVID-19 Discussion Thread (OTB)

  1. #361
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    Methanol as an unlisted ingredient of alcohol-based hand sanitizers has been a sporadic problem for years. I guess it's become more of a problem now for various obvious reasons. We've also seen an outbreak of methanol poisoning in Iran, because people had been told on social media and the FOAF-net that drinking alcohol would prevent Covid-19 infection.
    During my own little flirtation with Covid, which happened just when all alcohol-based cleaning products had been strip-mined by hoarders and panickers, I used methylated spirits (called "denatured alcohol" in the USA, I think) as a surface disinfectant, to my wife's initial horror. But there hasn't been methanol in methylated spirits for decades in the UK--people eventually realized that "Let's make it poisonous so people won't drink it" was a fundamentally dumb idea, and started adding bitterants and odourants instead.

    Grant Hutchison

  2. #362
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    During my own little flirtation with Covid, which happened just when all alcohol-based cleaning products had been strip-mined by hoarders and panickers, I used methylated spirits (called "denatured alcohol" in the USA, I think) as a surface disinfectant, to my wife's initial horror. But there hasn't been methanol in methylated spirits for decades in the UK--people eventually realized that "Let's make it poisonous so people won't drink it" was a fundamentally dumb idea, and started adding bitterants and odourants instead.
    As I recall, "methyl alcohol" was the more common term in pharmacies over here but it seems to have fallen out of favor over the years. My experience with denatured alcohol is as a solvent, primarily for thinning shellac. The methanol content can vary wildly in some products—30-to-60% in a commonly available brand. I long ago switched to their "green" version which contains 3-7%.

    Interestingly, I came across a fact sheet that not only describes MetOH as being unsafe, it's also less effective as a surface disinfectant...at least for viruses...in comparison to other alcohols. Also revealed: the Methanol Institute is a thing. Evidently.
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  3. #363
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    Interestingly, I came across a fact sheet that not only describes MetOH as being unsafe, it's also less effective as a surface disinfectant...at least for viruses...in comparison to other alcohols. Also revealed: the Methanol Institute is a thing. Evidently.
    Methylated spirits in the UK is (and was) mainly ethanol--more than 80%, which makes it a good coronavirus killer. The remainder used to be methanol, but is now isopropanol and a few other things.
    One of the treatments for methanol poisoning used to be intravenous ethanol (I'm not sure if that's still the case). The ethanol competes with methanol for the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, reducing the amount of methanol which is metabolized to methanal (formaldehyde, in old money) and then, via aldehyde dehydrogenase, into methanoic acid (formic acid, ditto). As medical students we used to speculate about whether we could blag our way to receiving an ethanol infusion by pretending to have ingested methylated spirits, and whether the treatment would actually result in pleasant inebriation.

    Grant Hutchison

  4. #364
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Methylated spirits in the UK is (and was) mainly ethanol--more than 80%, which makes it a good coronavirus killer.
    We do have the thing here labeled as ethyl rubbing alcohol (70%) so apparently they left the old name behind along with the methanol.
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  5. #365
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    I missed that part. I don’t believe methanol was ever a normal component of hand sanitizers, unless perhaps as a minute contaminant in the ethanol.
    Yeah, I guess that over the years, "added in small amounts as a contaminant" somehow shifted in my brain into "was a normal ingredient."
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  6. #366
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    One of the treatments for methanol poisoning used to be intravenous ethanol (I'm not sure if that's still the case).
    The article you linked to in your prior post mentioned using IV ethanol along with other treatment in a 2016 poisoning, so pretty recent at least. Also, I’ve read about its use before, I think in a news article or two, so I’d guess it isn’t that unusual or obsolete a treatment.

    As medical students we used to speculate about whether we could blag our way to receiving an ethanol infusion by pretending to have ingested methylated spirits, and whether the treatment would actually result in pleasant inebriation.
    Heh. And I learned a new word. Blag: con, deceive.

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  7. #367
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Methanol as an unlisted ingredient of alcohol-based hand sanitizers has been a sporadic proble for years. I guess it's become more of a problem now for various obvious reasons.
    That was interesting and a bit disturbing. Apparently this comes up now and then and they don’t know why it would be used. It would seem to me to be a good way to get sued, possibly arrested and have your company’s reputation destroyed or risk being put out of business. I’d be surprised if it was profitable enough to knowingly take a chance, and it is well known that methanol is pretty toxic, so there would need to be some pretty ignorant people in charge to not know any better. Maybe due to having such poor procedures that they get the alcohol types mixed up?

    I was a bit surprised that even isopropyl alcohol is significantly less toxic if taken internally than methanol.

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  8. #368
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    Heh. And I learned a new word. Blag: con, deceive.
    Same here. Never heard that before.
    As above, so below

  9. #369
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    Well, this is interesting.

    Houston researchers have made an air filter that can kill the coronavirus

    It,s a nickel foam filter heated to 200F that kills up to 99.8% of the virus on one pass.
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  10. #370
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    Well, this is interesting.

    Houston researchers have made an air filter that can kill the coronavirus

    It,s a nickel foam filter heated to 200F that kills up to 99.8% of the virus on one pass.
    Well, 'kill it with fire' is a time-tested method...
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  11. #371
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    Discussion of mask policy and practice in the other COVID thread brought commerce aspect to my mind. Before COVID, I occasionally shopped for face masks to use as protection from wood dust and fumes/aerosols of finishes and solvents. Looking at Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and Google Shopping now though...the explosion of makers and vendors is pretty amazing, as is the variety of mask designs. Colorful fabrics, graphics, messages, even customization. Of course, there was only one thing I could do:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    On a less amusing note, it's disappointing to see so many masks with unfiltered exhaust valves being offered for COVID protection...and being used, even in medical settings.
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  12. #372
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    On a less amusing note, it's disappointing to see so many masks with unfiltered exhaust valves being offered for COVID protection...and being used, even in medical settings.
    Medical use of such masks, in these parts at least, is restricted to those caring for people who have tested positive for Covid-19, where the carer needs protection from the patient, but not the other way around (and not when sterile procedures are being carried out). They're a lot easier to wear for a long shift than any of the alternatives.
    I recently watched a TV journalist in the USA, wearing an N95 mask with two prominent expiratory flutter valves, explain to camera how we'd "all been asking the wrong questions about masks" and that the purpose of his mask was "to protect others" not "to protect myself". Extra points for attempting to pass on the messaging du jour, but infinite points deducted for being such an extremely bad example of it. (Hereabouts, we call them "I'm alright Jack" masks. I don't know how well that reference survives crossing the Atlantic.)

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2020-Jul-10 at 05:03 PM.

  13. #373
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    My employer requires wearing masks on-site. If a mask has an exhaust valve, it must be covered.
    I wore my N95 mask during a recent visit, and covered the exhaust valve with...

    Wait for it...

    Masking Tape


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  14. #374
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Medical use of such masks, in these parts at least, is restricted to those caring for people who have tested positive for Covid-19, where the carer needs protection from the patient, but not the other way around (and not when sterile procedures are being carried out). They're a lot easier to wear for a long shift than any of the alternatives.
    No argument in that case. Being a long-time mask wearer—GP dust masks, P95/P100, half and full face respirators, military gas masks—I completely get increased comfort of exhaust valves. The instances I alluded to were in a more general patient contact setting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Extravoice View Post
    My employer requires wearing masks on-site. If a mask has an exhaust valve, it must be covered.
    I wore my N95 mask during a recent visit, and covered the exhaust valve with...

    Wait for it...

    Masking Tape
    When masks were hard (impossible) to find locally, I raided my woodworking stock and used such a mask briefly. I covered the valve port with duct tape adorned with...wait for it...mustaches. I was a bit concerned that the pressure of warm, moist air behind the adhesive c/would eventually loosen it, so I applied tape to the inside of the valve as well. I'm pretty sure it was okay for your brief visit but me, I wouldn't have been at all confident using it. Sometimes I over think things and over-engineer as a result.
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  15. #375
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    (Hereabouts, we call them "I'm alright Jack" masks. I don't know how well that reference survives crossing the Atlantic.)
    I think it's so rarely used on this side that I can't recall ever hearing it, except from Pink Floyd. However, Google confirms that I correctly inferred its basic meaning from the context. Interesting history behind it, too.
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  16. #376
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    Quote Originally Posted by Extravoice View Post
    My employer requires wearing masks on-site. If a mask has an exhaust valve, it must be covered.
    I wore my N95 mask during a recent visit, and covered the exhaust valve with...

    Wait for it...

    Masking Tape


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    And both the mask and tape might well have been made by the same company, 3M! Especially if the tape was blue.

    Meanwhile, my yard guy sent a couple of his guys out this morning but he himself is off on a trip with his family. To Florida. Doesn't seem like a good idea to me.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  17. #377
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    One of my best friends lives in Florida, works in the health care industry, and would definitely agree with you.
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  18. #378
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    This could go in the "stuff I don't get" thread but is probably better here.
    We're "older" and go to the doctors quite a lot. Especially my wife.
    When we go to the clinics at the local hospital, or the primary care across the street, they have someone sitting by the door to take your temp, give you mask if you don't have one, and hand you a sign to put on your seat in the waiting room when you're done, so that someone will come sanitize it after you get up. They've also blocked off or removed a lot of seats so people are distanced.
    But my wife's neurologist is at a different medical center in Sequim. When we went there Friday and again yesterday they were doing none of that. There was a sign saying "Put on your mask if you have one" but didn't seem to be offering any. Waiting room chairs were entirely normal, no spacing or signs. And I'm pretty sure that county has more cases than ours.
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  19. #379
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    We haven't even used waiting rooms the few times I've been to the doctor; you call and let them know you're there, and they tell you when you can come in.
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  20. #380
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    Like a lot of folks, I've been tracking CV-19 cases in my state and county using a spreadsheet. No other reason except that I like that sort of thing. The data comes from the respective health authorities.

    So the county has had an alarming increase in positive cases in the last week but in diving deeper, two factors are buried in the numbers. One, a local health facility (a mental health home) had an outbreak which drove that day's numbers very high. Other localized outbreaks surely have happened. And two, the health authorities report cases by people's residence. So if a person visiting a town gets tested positive, that goes against the person's place of residence, not where the test occurred. I live in a summer tourist town and our population at the moment is much higher than during off season. With those two factors, even with meticulously tracking daily case counts, it's hard to assess current risk. Is the disease becoming more prevalent in places I might frequent? Outbreaks in nursing facilities and from stupid large family gatherings don't much impact my risk. But lots of tourists hanging out in restaurants, bars, and public spaces do. One thing I've started paying attention to is the number of cases currently at our hospital. Those numbers don't distinguish between admissions of locals vs tourists. I just have to guess what percentage of positive tested people go to the ER rather than to urgent care or stay at home care.

    In any case, I'm about ready to go back to lockdown. I'll miss my (outdoor) pub visits, again.

  21. #381
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    I miss going to restaurants. We could do that now, but my wife is particularly vulnerable due to existing conditions, so we don't.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  22. #382
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    We've had the two highest case level days so far this week.
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    "You can't erase icing."

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  23. #383
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    Quote Originally Posted by geonuc View Post
    In any case, I'm about ready to go back to lockdown. I'll miss my (outdoor) pub visits, again.
    I've never really ended my lockdown. My wife or I go to the grocery store once a week or so. Occasional other stores as necessary. I'm working from home and have only been in the office about 4 times since this started. Still haven't had a haircut (my wife has had her hair done twice). Have eaten outside at a restaurant once since this started. And all those things are with masks on (except the eating one). Our only other activity outside of home is hiking and we keep distant from anyone on the trail.

    I have some errands I need to do (haircut, get new glasses, service on my car), but I've been putting those off till the numbers start dropping around here.

    I have no intention to change anytime soon.
    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    I miss going to restaurants. We could do that now, but my wife is particularly vulnerable due to existing conditions, so we don't.
    We do take-out or delivery once a week. I agree, I miss going to restaurants too, but we are both at higher risk.
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  24. #384
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    I haven't been to a sit-down restaurant since February, only outdoor pub patios. I've bypassed a few based on the occupancy when I show up. No haircut. No dental. No doctor. We normally swap out our winter tires sometime in March or April but this year the vehicles are still wearing winter shoes and that will be the case all year. Along with generally avoiding contact with people, keeping the winter tires on is OK because they're good tires (they just wear faster) and the miles driven on the vehicles has plummeted anyway. I've been to the hardware store a number of times to support my various house & woodworking projects. I'm in and out quickly - no browsing. Lots of hiking but I always avoid crowded places and rarely venture out on the trail on a weekend. I've played golf twice but that's low risk with the no-contact protocols in place at the course. Grocery stores remain the biggest risk.

  25. #385
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    Quote Originally Posted by geonuc View Post
    Like a lot of folks, I've been tracking CV-19 cases in my state and county using a spreadsheet. No other reason except that I like that sort of thing. The data comes from the respective health authorities.
    I've been doing that, too, although I've just been tracking at the state level.

    Since June 1st (47 days), we've added 2796 new cases, which is an average of 59.49 per day. But the absolute highest the 7-day rolling average has been during that period is 66.57 (12% above the average) and the absolute lowest has been 51.14 (14% below the average). That seems like an awful long time with very little change. (The general trend is definitely downward, but very slowly).

    The optimist in me wants to call it the epitome of a "flattened curve"...
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  26. #386
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    What gets me is the anti-mask protesters. "Oh, potentially curbing the spread of this deadly disease mildly inconveniences me!"
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    There’s a lot about the entire mask debate that bothers me. On either side, I usually am hearing absolute statements being made, rarely qualified and careful science based arguments. For most people, the argument seems to have more to do with politics, religion and which public figures someone listens to than science.

    My biggest beef with the people that are adamant about not wearing masks is not about the masks themselves, but that these people also tend to ignore social distancing and thereby efficiently spread the virus.

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    An interesting segment in our local news, showed the original newspaper reports on the mask protesters in the 1918 influenza epidemic. They were pretty much the same percentage of the US population and their protest slogans were pretty much word for word the same, right down to the identical political and Constitutional arguments.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

  29. #389
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    My yard is improving thanks to all of this at home time. So are my blood sugar levels, which probable has something to do with cooking at home and yard work. I am more aware of what I eat. We have a list of places we support with takeout. Just three. The Thai place, the Pizza place and the wings place. The Thai place is healthiest, the wings are neutral and the pizza is right out for me. I have a salad those nights. We order from one of those once a week.

    On a funny note, I ordered a computer part in March. It was shipping from overseas and would arrive in 15 days. Then the virus and a fire at the port created some delays. My package is in a mail triage center, occasionally being scanned as they sift through the mess. I don't know how anyone could have predicted such a mess, so I'm rather relaxed about the whole thing.

    But the poor people at the company I ordered from are dealing with an automated email system that sends me an email asking for seller feedback and product review every week, since the end of March. That should happen once when the package is marked delivered, but apparently there is a fall back scenario where it will simply count days and send an email every week until the package is marked as delivered or they get feedback or a review. Since it hasn't been delivered, the website won't let me do either of those thing, which a bug/feature. I can't imagine a scenario where that is helpful, but here I am.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noclevername View Post
    An interesting segment in our local news, showed the original newspaper reports on the mask protesters in the 1918 influenza epidemic. They were pretty much the same percentage of the US population and their protest slogans were pretty much word for word the same, right down to the identical political and Constitutional arguments.
    Yes, the arguments on both sides were exactly the same, both sides adopted their own version of the moral high ground, both applied strawman arguments to the other's positions, and no-one learned a damn thing from the experience. Plus ça change ...

    Fundamentally, it's a moral-philosophical argument about the inevitable tension between autonomy and justice (in the sense of fair distribution of resources and risks). These are really hard discussions to have in medicine, and excruciatingly difficult to resolve, and they're one of the reasons I went off and studied moral philosophy in the first place. So I'm kind of in despair about the whole "mask debate" thing, which (in my view) has turned into a complete distraction from the efficient management of the pandemic, in some parts of the world at least.

    Grant Hutchison

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