COVID-19 Safety Discussion

Pursuant to the conversation we had the meeting tonight — I think we can all agree that:

  • Conversations should be taken outside whenever possible.
  • Valve-equipped masks are not appropriate coverage — if you’re wearing one like that for air quality reasons, you need to put a medically protective mask on top of that.
  • Stay as distanced as possible as often as possible.

Situations where talking outside is not really possible are things like adjusting to what’s going on while moving heavy things down a flight of stairs. (“Corner!” “Lower!“, etc)

Situations where 6+ feet of distancing isn’t really possible is when moving, say, a very heavy bank of lockers down the stairs.

So, in order to complete our move as safely as possible, we should be very clear on what the latest science tells us about risk factors.

In general, the risk factors for transmission have been updated by medical professionals to center on how forcefully an infected person speaks (or sings), and the length of time of exposure.. And of course these are all modulated by whether one or both people are wearing a mask.


There has been a decrease in emphasis on distance as a risk factor. So, two people wearing masks who aren’t speaking much, but who are within a few feet of each other — even if they happen to be breathing harder from exertion — are in a low category of risk based on what I can gather from various articles that have come out in the past 4 months.

Therefore, we should pay special attention to how much we talk to each other WHILE moving things and cut the unnecessary yap, because that’s when we will unwittingly increase the forcefulness of our voices.

And (again) if you must wear an N95 mask for air quality reasons (probably a good idea certain days), you should have a cloth mask with good facial coverage over top of it.

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And now the SCIENCE, bitches. No magical thinking at the hackerspace. Surface transmission isn’t as much of a factor as we thought at the beginning (in fact it is fairly negligible). Airborne transmission is what’s up.

Taking breaks regularly to go outside while helping Noisebridge move is a really good idea on several different levels.

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Correction in last paragraph of your first post. I think you mean N95 with valve, as an N95 without a valve is absolutely more protective than a surgical mask for both the wearer and everyone else.

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I think it’s also important to emphasize that things like bandanas are the least effective form of face covering.

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After reading the meeting notes, I feel I should also state that the person density inside the stairways at 2169 as we were moving stuff up and down on Sunday was far too great. I got within 6 ft of people many times. The only reason I operated in that environment is because I was wearing that fully sealed respirator and goggles. Absolutely would not have done it with just an N95 disposable.

Prob should have some more effort / resources put into people organization to keep that density down.

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That’s kind of what I was addressing actually by emphasizing the fact that transmission happens mostly through exhalation and prolonged-presence contact. Risk of transmission is far lower when everyone is wearing a mask, conversation is minimized, and people aren’t staying put in the same place with each other.

Now, do i think conversation was kept to a minimum? No, I don’t. We could be more mindful of that going forward.

Moving in and outside seems like a good way of mitigating the stairwell risks due to the way sunlight destroys viruses. (Obviously, less of a benefit at night; so far we’ve only done noon-5pm stints anyway.)

I agree that we had a few dust-ups that could possibly be avoided.

I think rather than inviting MORE volunteers into the mix (seems contraindicated), we should make sure volunteers feel empowered to speak up about reordering logistics when things are getting messy.

However, I definitely want to reiterate that occasional brush-by events are not really a cause for alarm.

More important, in my view, is consistent use of masks that actually stay on your face. To your point, @fineline.

(And yes, i keep improperly conflating “N95” with “valve bearing mask” because a lot of people have been doing that…)

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Agreed - also understanding that we should enjoy flexible application of these sorts of guidelines, relying on the general awareness and good judgment of volunteers dealing with details as they come up. (For instance, I think a “reasonable” amount of conversation inside is fine - unless inside one of the enclosed non-ventilated rooms upstairs. Etc, etc, etc).

I’m thinking a “buddy system” (asking people to look out for each other) would be a good way to encourage communication.

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Buddy system makes a lot of sense. Otherwise we’re putting a very un-Noisebridge-y level of responsibility on to the move and build coordinators, who don’t have eyes in back of their heads.

(Note to self: repair googly eyes on back of jumping spider hat.)

Relatedly, Lemons and I talked a fair bit about being profligate with warnings and disclaimers when we call out for volunteers. Mostly warnings, though. For instance:

  • If you are immune-compromised in any way, or have a history of asthma, you should consider finding a non-physical way to contribute. (Link to pages describing remote ways to help.)
  • We recommend working continuously for only about 50 minutes at a time, with 10 minute breaks between, and working for a total of no more than 5 hours on any particular day.

Or…something like that.

And we can always use someone(s) even just to keep an eye on the front area of 272 when the rollup door is open - can imagine a few other non-strenuous ways to help on site while others are handling the heavy lifting.

Tried the buddy system out today with Robert and a few other people. It turns out it’s kind of fun saying “hey buddy!” so I’m hopeful that this will catch on - and actually be more effective than hard-coding too many details up front.

Current template for a buddy system Viral Indoctrination Protocol maybe a bit chatty but just for example, my thoughts:

“Welcome, thanks for coming. We’re going to take a few minutes to talk about safety before we go inside. We really need your help to keep each other safe. Think of it as an extended buddy system, where we are all looking out for each other and not hesitating to warn about any hazards. You can just say hey buddy! In general be extra careful when working around stairwells and in areas without good ventilation (mostly upstairs) - just be aware of the air we share. Different people will have different perception and tolerance for risk - that’s fine, the important thing is to be aware and not impose risk on your buddies. [Blah blah blah …]. Now you can explain this to the next crew too!”

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That’s cool!

Just out of curiosity, what was the work day like? Who came by? Where people staggered at different times? I’d love to see a “Here’s how today’s work day went” post in the Moving category. (Hint nudge hint @Roboto )

short and sweet. Opened 272 with X around 3. Roboto procured a large pizza around 4:30. Volunteers included Jay, Charles, Nick, Roy, and Stuart - also Andy stopped by with fam and tacos. :slight_smile: Work done was mostly all about consolidating stuff already accumulated at 272 so as to clear paths for future deliveries.

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