Outspoken progressive actress Alyssa Milano met with a wave of criticism for promoting face masks on Twitter Saturday while sporting a face mask of her own that did not appear to be doing much to quash the spread of coronavirus.
Milano posted a selfie of her family on their way to get a coronavirus antibody test in Los Angeles, California, and all four members of the family were masked, though Milano herself was sporting a crocheted face mask, full of holes. Milano used the post as a way of encouraging mask wearing for health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) May 23, 2020
“Show me your masks! Masks keep people safe and healthy. Show me yours! Ready? Go! #WearAMask”
For many like Milano, under the impression that supporters of President Donald Trump oppose masks, mask-wearing has become a political statement in opposition to the president, so certainly there was a significant element of virtue signaling in the social media post.
But there were also questions about Milano’s mask, which doesn’t appear to do much to prevent the spread of coronavirus, given that crocheted and knitted products are still full of holes through which air can flow — and Twitter users were quick to point out the obvious flaws in Milano’s safety plan.
“Your mask is exactly what this fence does to keep mosquitoes out,” one users said, per Fox News.
“‘Masks keep people safe and healthy.’ Unless, of course… you wear a crocheted ‘mask’ with literal holes in it,” chimed in another.
Others posted silly memes of people posing with “anti-virus” CD-ROMs and other useless anti-coronavirus measures, suggesting Milano would be better off trying other options, especially if she hoped to protect herself from COVID-19.
Milano later fired back claiming the mask had a “charcoal filter” that made it effective despite the open weave.
“A**holes, mask has a carbon filter in it. So, yes, it might be crochet but totally safe,” Milano wrote later. “Mask has a filter in it for f***’s sake. A carbon one. My mom makes them. #WearAMask”
Despite proclaimed safety, it’s not immediately clear a hand knit or crocheted face mask provides much in the way of protection even with a filter. Organizations promoting home mask-making have suggested making fabric masks with filters instead, since knit and crocheted masks might “easily let in droplets and other particles.”
Filters in homemade face masks aren’t nearly as effective as, say, the N95-style mask Milano’s husband is wearing, because the filters in homemade masks do not seal to the wearer’s face, leaving room for particles to get in through the cotton barriers.
Masks have, of course, become relatively controversial recently, largely because states and municipalities are now mandating mask-wearing, rather than making it the wearer’s choice to protect themselves. Medical and scientific authorities have also been back and forth on whether masks are effective at halting or slowing the spread of novel coronavirus, but most agree that mask-wearing is largely beneficial in the midst of a pandemic.