This sounds confusing. If I remember correctly, R0 for the virus was around 3 before it was controlled. Is it really plausible that a virus that can spread through droplets due to asymptomatic people breathing in the street, where those droplets travel 6m, would have an R0 as low as 3? Wouldn't it just infect everybody immediately? What am I missing?
I'm sure it's possible that someone asymptomatic breathing while walking down the sidewalk infects a bunch of people. That doesn't mean it isn't also rare and maybe not a significant factor in the overall picture of the virus.
There are likely 10s of millions of people with the virus at this point. There are probably a few cases out there where they caught it through their bedroom window from someone asymptomatic wearing a mask on a sidewalk 4 floors below. That doesn't mean masks are pointless or that asymptomatic people spread the virus just as easily as symptomatic people or that everyone needs to shut their windows.
I think there's also a tendency to think about R0 as something that applies in any environment, but this won't be true. It will vary a lot based on air flow, indoors/outdoors, etc. As a result of this, you'll have instances where one carrier infected 10 or more people due to being in close proximity with unfavourable air flow, even if the average carrier only infects around 3 - 5 or thereabouts.
I always think about smokers for this type of thing. The particles are probably quite different (I hope droplets don't carry quite as well as smoke!) and so perhaps there is an adjustment that needs to be made, but in certain environments you will see & smell the smoke from a smoker a lot more than other environments. This will also depend on your proximity and airflow.
Reasonable precautions for the vast majority of people don’t seem like enough if you’re 70+.
It’s known that people have gotten infected while standing much further than 6 feet apart. If your at 20+ times the risk of death than the general population and retired then long term self quarantine is a serious consideration. That represents a significant quality of life cost, but I would hardly call such people paranoid.
"Masks Don't Work: A review of science relevant to COVID-19 social policy"
In his "review of the medical literature" none of the articles talks specifically about the Coronavirus, instead talks about the Influenza virus. They have very different sizes.
Also checked the second link, it says:
There is some evidence to support the wearing of masks or respirators during illness to protect others, and public health emphasis on mask wearing during illness may help to reduce influenza virus transmission.
Not very convincingly concludes the opposite of the claim.
Covid is spread mainly by respiratory droplets, masks act to catch those droplets at source, it's simple logic.
Whilst only a properly fitted P3/N99 mask gives absolute protection from infection via inhalation, community mask use is an important pandemic control measure to keep the reproduction rate 'r0' to a minimum.
That the advice from WHO and some governments has been muddled, illogical and inconsistent does not detract from the truth.