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MEmama

How to protect ourselves around people who won’t mask?

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I mask when I have to go to the office, 1-2 times per week. My boss won’t and thinks the global pandemic is bordering on a hoax. He’s made fun of how I look in a mask, allows unmasked people to come into the office (we aren’t a public business but sometimes people do come in for various unnecessary reasons), and has been making a show lately about shaking peoples hands and loudly dismissing “the whole thing”. 
 

So. Is there anything at all that I can do to better protect *myself* when I do have to be around him? I try to distance, but he of course doesn’t, and with his constant smokers cough I doubt a few feet makes much difference. My mask has a pocket for a filter but I’m confused about whether adding something to act as one actually helps ME. Also, I do have to answer the phone so it’s important that my voice isn’t muffled too much. 
 

Are there any good options (other than leaving my job)? 

 

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That is so obnoxious. Any way to get your hands on an actual N95 mask?

Or ask him why he's not worried about liability, because his wearing a mask is to protect *others*, so if he infects someone else at work with his maskless, hand-shaking germiness, he could be sued.  Y'know, by 'someone'...

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36 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

That is so obnoxious. Any way to get your hands on an actual N95 mask?

Or ask him why he's not worried about liability, because his wearing a mask is to protect *others*, so if he infects someone else at work with his maskless, hand-shaking germiness, he could be sued.  Y'know, by 'someone'...

Yeah, he really doesn’t care. At all.

It’s extra short sighted of him because if I get sick, he is literally going to have to go out of business. 
 

That’s a good idea about the N95. I do have one. Can I wear it that often? I think I’ve seen ways they can be sanitized. 

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Agreed, that's really obnoxious. I wouldn't be able to work with a person like that, unless I absolutely needed the money and couldn't get another job. I assume it would be incredibly awkward, but have you broached the subject of you leaving if he continues this behavior? You might not get sick, but you could quit, and it sounds like his business would go under.

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If I were in your situation I wouldn't feel any better if he were wearing a cloth mask.   I'm just not convinced they are that much protection, particularly in a situation where you are with the same person all day.   It seems like short of an N95 or haz mat suit you are going to share germs with each other.    I am not a scientist, so do whatever you want with my very humble opinion!

I think this is one of these gray area, very situational specific problems.   If I were you, I would really think about how much I needed the job vs how scared I was of catching Covid19.   Only you can decide that.  You also said he was the boss, but is he the owner?   Is there someone higher up you can talk to?   

If I decided it wasn't worth leaving, I would just try hard to stay away from him, and not touch my face, and shower when I got home and all those things like that.   It's the best you can do in a situation like that.

 

 

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I would stop working for him unless absolutely desperate.   

He is playing Russian Roulette with **your** life.  And if your son does have Covid toe, not some fungus or something, your work could well be the exposure.

And if not yet, it could be tomorrow.

Or next week.

Or the week after. 

 

 If you are truly desperate for the income, single mom, or only earner in family, see what else you can do ASAP. Finding anOther job . Talking with boss... 

 

(Constant smokers cough means whatever germs he has will be all over, and there would be no real way to know whether it is smoker’s cough or signs of illness.) 

 

A well fit and well filtered mask would be better than nothing. Also eyes protection.  But even an N95 unless it is correctly fitted won’t help a lot given the amount of exposure to him and his coughing. 

 

Whatever your son has you maybe should stay home except for doctor visits while it is figured out.  And while you are out from work maybe have time to think through your risks and whether the job is necessary.  (Maybe boss would have a chance to re-think too.)

Meanwhile do all the health things you can. And that aren’t personally contraindicated for you.  Things like Nutritious foods, sleep, exercise, fresh air, sunshine...

 I’d also be supplementing with Vitamin D3,  K2, A, E, N Acetylcysteine (NAC), zinc, Quercetin, C, B vitamins, magnesium, selenium...

 

 

Edited by Pen
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This isn’t helpful, I know, but I just can’t help but say your boss is starting to really tick me off. 😡You seem like such a kind person and I’ve read many threads about him, and I wish he’d just knock it off!!!

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7 hours ago, MEmama said:

Yeah, he really doesn’t care. At all.

It’s extra short sighted of him because if I get sick, he is literally going to have to go out of business. 
 

That’s a good idea about the N95. I do have one. Can I wear it that often? I think I’ve seen ways they can be sanitized. 

I've heard you can sanitize an N95 by putting it in the oven for 1/2 hour at 170ºF.  (This is well below any temp that will catch it on fire!)

I'm not sure how long an N95 is super-effective generally, esp. if you wear it all day, over and over.  But I guess I'm still figuring even the 10yo one from the basement I have is better than just a cloth mask.  I only wear it when going shopping or when I've had to help my kids move apartments and I'm indoors while not at home.  I've taken to wearing a thin cloth mask over it.

Edited by Matryoshka
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No real advice, but I’m sorry you’re in that situation.

We’re all muddling our way through this.  My family was out doing yard work this weekend when a car pulled up the driveway, a man (with a bandana around his neck) came out and walked right past me and my daughter, over to my husband. Turns out, they know each other from high school. Then his kid popped out of the car, too. And the guy started going on about paranoid people.

There’s, like, 8 things in that situation that were really messed up, but we were taken so off guard that none of us really knew what to do.  There’s no “acceptable” standard yet for dealing with people who have no intentions of protecting others.

Well, in some states/counties, there are standards for employers at least, but that’s clearly not unified.

Edited by Carrie12345
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Maine has low population, and isn’t one of the terribly hard hit states, but it has slightly higher CV19 death rate per population than Texas. And I believe it is a state with CV19 rising.  

 

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If he's violating workplace guidelines for your state I would look into how you report him. 

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14 minutes ago, Pen said:

Maine has low population, and isn’t one of the terribly hard hit states, but it has slightly higher CV19 death rate per population than Texas. And I believe it is a state with CV19 rising.  

 

I believe we have the oldest population in the country, and half of our 70ish deaths have literally been from nursing homes.  

But, we are also a huge summer tourism state, particularly people from New York and Massachusetts.  Which is unlike other more isolated states.      

  

Edited by Zebra
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3 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

If he's violating workplace guidelines for your state I would look into how you report him. 

I believe the state order is something like, you must wear a face mask in spaces where physical distancing is hard to maintain.   Which may be hard to define on purpose.

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How about, “My son has something that could possibly be Covid-19. I have to take a few days off while that gets figured out, and also very honestly, Bossname, I need to think through whether I want to keep working in a hostile work environment where you criticize my mask wearing and won’t take precautions yourself.”

 

”Hostile work environment” is a legal term in some places, btw.  But you could just use it with ordinary English words sense for now. 

 

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3 minutes ago, Zebra said:

I believe the state order is something like, you must wear a face mask in spaces where physical distancing is hard to maintain.   Which may be hard to define on purpose.

 

It might possibly be enough to stop work and claim unemployment based on having to leave due to the work conditions. 

 

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8 minutes ago, Pen said:

It might possibly be enough to stop work and claim unemployment based on having to leave due to the work conditions.

 

I wouldn't count on it. OP should double check the local laws.

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Or insist that you can only work 100% from home.  

 

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14 minutes ago, Pen said:

Or insist that you can only work 100% from home.  

 

A local radio personality just did that and got fired.   Now she's suing, but that's going to be a long battle I assume.

Bottom line, I can't think of a single thing you can do to protect yourself at the office.    I don't think there is any magic thing you aren't thinking of hygiene wise.

 

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Oh, how stressful :-(.

I’d wear the N95. Is what he’s doing legal? If not, you could report it.

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21 minutes ago, Zebra said:

A local radio personality just did that and got fired.   Now she's suing, but that's going to be a long battle I assume.

Bottom line, I can't think of a single thing you can do to protect yourself at the office.    I don't think there is any magic thing you aren't thinking of hygiene wise.

 

 

That would be a risk. But **if MEmama is right** (which probably cannot be certain) that he can’t run business without her, and if he’s not ready to close, then it may work.   Phones can be forwarded. Documents dealt with online or by mail...

 

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3 hours ago, Matryoshka said:

Or ask him why he's not worried about liability, because his wearing a mask is to protect *others*, so if he infects someone else at work with his maskless, hand-shaking germiness, he could be sued.  Y'know, by 'someone'...

I want to piggy back off of this. Let's say it's a hoax. The whole shebang. Our government is evil and lying and trying to take our rights away. Your son has athlete's foot but they're going to diagnose it Covid toe because why not. What's a government like that going to with a man who refuses to wear a mask?

1 hour ago, Zebra said:

I believe the state order is something like, you must wear a face mask in spaces where physical distancing is hard to maintain.   Which may be hard to define on purpose.

Can the floor be marked?

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2 hours ago, PeterPan said:

If he's violating workplace guidelines for your state I would look into how you report him. 

In our state people did that through the proper government website. Then they started to get harassing phone calls and death threats. Turns out that the information is not protected but is all open due to the Freedom of Information act. (Of course the people who take advantage of that to harass people are despicable but just wanted to tell people to research if it puts your personal information out there.). 

Edited by Jean in Newcastle
Stupid autocorrect
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only other thing I can think of is setting up a fan to blow air away from you, toward him?

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4 hours ago, Kanin said:

Agreed, that's really obnoxious. I wouldn't be able to work with a person like that, unless I absolutely needed the money and couldn't get another job. I assume it would be incredibly awkward, but have you broached the subject of you leaving if he continues this behavior? You might not get sick, but you could quit, and it sounds like his business would go under.

I don’t need the job. But leaving is complicated—selfishly, it will be harder for me to find a job if I’m not employed, or if I leave without being laid off. There aren’t going to be many jobs available for awhile, other than the grocery store, and I do want to work if possible. 
Unselfishly, he keeps talking about retiring and selling the business. If I leave he really can’t keep the place going, he’s utterly helpless and there is no one else but me. Idk. There are a lot of layers.

4 hours ago, Pen said:

I would stop working for him unless absolutely desperate.   

He is playing Russian Roulette with **your** life.  And if your son does have Covid toe, not some fungus or something, your work could well be the exposure.

And if not yet, it could be tomorrow.

Or next week.

Or the week after. 

 

 If you are truly desperate for the income, single mom, or only earner in family, see what else you can do ASAP. Finding anOther job . Talking with boss... 

 

(Constant smokers cough means whatever germs he has will be all over, and there would be no real way to know whether it is smoker’s cough or signs of illness.) 

 

A well fit and well filtered mask would be better than nothing. Also eyes protection.  But even an N95 unless it is correctly fitted won’t help a lot given the amount of exposure to him and his coughing. 

 

Whatever your son has you maybe should stay home except for doctor visits while it is figured out.  And while you are out from work maybe have time to think through your risks and whether the job is necessary.  (Maybe boss would have a chance to re-think too.)

Meanwhile do all the health things you can. And that aren’t personally contraindicated for you.  Things like Nutritious foods, sleep, exercise, fresh air, sunshine...

 I’d also be supplementing with Vitamin D3,  K2, A, E, N Acetylcysteine (NAC), zinc, Quercetin, C, B vitamins, magnesium, selenium...

 

 

I’ll definitely quarantine if DS's issue does appear to be Covid. Boss won’t understand (but MEmama, YOURE not sick!) but at that point I won’t care.

3 hours ago, mmasc said:

This isn’t helpful, I know, but I just can’t help but say your boss is starting to really tick me off. 😡You seem like such a kind person and I’ve read many threads about him, and I wish he’d just knock it off!!!

Awwww, thanks! Although now I feel bad about complaining so much! 😂

3 hours ago, Matryoshka said:

I've heard you can sanitize an N95 by putting it in the oven for 1/2 hour at 275ºF.  (This is well below any temp that will catch it on fire!)

I'm not sure how long an N95 is super-effective generally, esp. if you wear it all day, over and over.  But I guess I'm still figuring even the 10yo one from the basement I have is better than just a cloth mask.  I only wear it when going shopping or when I've had to help my kids move apartments and I'm indoors while not at home.  I've taken to wearing a thin cloth mask over it.

You are probably right. I’ll start using it next time I go in. Thanks for the baking directions. 🙂

 

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3 hours ago, Pen said:

Maine has low population, and isn’t one of the terribly hard hit states, but it has slightly higher CV19 death rate per population than Texas. And I believe it is a state with CV19 rising.  

 

Yes, it is rising and I am in one of the counties with the highest numbers. But they have started testing more, which has a pretty significant effect, and some of the highest jumps are, sadly, in nursing homes. 

3 hours ago, PeterPan said:

If he's violating workplace guidelines for your state I would look into how you report him. 

I mean, he’s just a tiny business. It’s me and him. He would just shut down rather than make changes.

3 hours ago, Zebra said:

I believe we have the oldest population in the country, and half of our 70ish deaths have literally been from nursing homes.  

But, we are also a huge summer tourism state, particularly people from New York and Massachusetts.  Which is unlike other more isolated states.      

  

Yup. And I work in a tourist community (don’t we all!). The locals aren’t taking this seriously but the summer people are more likely to (despite coming here in the first place). 

3 hours ago, Zebra said:

I believe the state order is something like, you must wear a face mask in spaces where physical distancing is hard to maintain.   Which may be hard to define on purpose.

Ugh, that is vague. I wasn’t sure if it’s an actual law or a suggestion. There’s definitely no distance in the office at any rate.

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2 minutes ago, MEmama said:

Yes, it is rising and I am in one of the counties with the highest numbers. But they have started testing more, which has a pretty significant effect, and some of the highest jumps are, sadly, in nursing homes. 

I don't want to derail your work thread, but just as a side note, it's nerve wracking that Maine cases are going up. Testing more, yes, but also more in the hospital 😞 I feel like we shut down before anything major happened, and now people feel like it should be over, when in fact it may just be starting - and now people are fed up with isolating! Eek. 

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3 hours ago, Pen said:

How about, “My son has something that could possibly be Covid-19. I have to take a few days off while that gets figured out, and also very honestly, Bossname, I need to think through whether I want to keep working in a hostile work environment where you criticize my mask wearing and won’t take precautions yourself.”

 

I won’t need to go in for a few days, but yeah, I might just use this. 

2 hours ago, Pen said:

Or insist that you can only work 100% from home.  

 

I work mostly from home. I don’t have a way to do certain tasks remotely so I do need to go sometimes. 

2 hours ago, Zebra said:

A local radio personality just did that and got fired.   Now she's suing, but that's going to be a long battle I assume.

Bottom line, I can't think of a single thing you can do to protect yourself at the office.    I don't think there is any magic thing you aren't thinking of hygiene wise.

 

Isn’t that awful? I figured there must be more to the story? Otherwise it truly makes no sense.

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1 hour ago, Slache said:

I want to piggy back off of this. Let's say it's a hoax. The whole shebang. Our government is evil and lying and trying to take our rights away. Your son has athlete's foot but they're going to diagnose it Covid toe because why not. What's a government like that going to with a man who refuses to wear a mask?

Can the floor be marked?

Ha! Right, darn government tyranny keeping the workforce safe. Or something.

It's a very, very small office.. 

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Just now, MEmama said:

Ha! Right, darn government tyranny keeping the workforce safe. Or something.

It's a very, very small office.. 

But if someone were to report him (not you, you're just concerned) they might have a problem with him.

There's either a virus or a conspiracy. Either way there's a good reason to wear a mask.

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Is there a way for you to choose to work in the office while he is not there? For example, if you work one day a week, instead of doing that, go in every day when you know he will be out for lunch. It seems the current thinking is that prolonged exposure increases the odds of getting the virus, so being with him for an hour or two every day might be better, health-wise, than being with him for one day for 8 hours.

Or if lunchtime chops up your day too much, show up an hour before you know he will arrive, then leave an hour after he gets there, so you get two hours of work done each day but only one with him in the room.

Just throwing out some ideas.

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Can you put a line on the floor around your desk-or-whatever? Like a 6-ft radius octagon?

He sounds like a straight-talk guy, meaning he will mock you, but if you say, "Unless you want me working from home, I want you on the other side of that line. I deserve my personal space. I'm allowed to disagree with you about the precautions I want to take." -- So, he will have his manly emotions about that, and he won't make any secret of whatever contempt he might feel (so that's going to suck) but strong words and a visual aid might actually keep his saliva further from your mucous membranes. And that's the goal.

So, even if he puts his hands up and says, "Oooooh! Gotta stay out of your octagon of fear!" -- as long as he takes a step back as part of his little self-serving drama tableau, mission accomplished for you. You don't care what he says or how he feels. You care how far viruses flow on air currents. Take the label. Be the paranoid fanatic. It's no fun to be looked down on, but you can take it. Keep safe.

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If you're still going in, you should open up whatever windows you can, tie nylon over your mask, and wear a face shield as well. And wash your hands every hour, on the hour, in addition to after going to the bathroom, before eating, and when entering and leaving the office.

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58 minutes ago, MEmama said:

I won’t need to go in for a few days, but yeah, I might just use this. 

 

Maybe add a suggestion that he consider what he wants to do and whether keeping you might be worth him changing.

But maybe he’s ready to retire?  And so does not care what he does for that reason?

 

58 minutes ago, MEmama said:

I work mostly from home. I don’t have a way to do certain tasks remotely so I do need to go sometimes. 

Does it need to be at same time as he is there?  

Time in between him being there and you being there would reduce load of active virus, especially if there were a good air filter or sanitizing UV lighting going while it was between people. 

Oh also, wide open windows and sunshine if that’s possible when you are there could help. 

 

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Open windows while there with a fan that’s drawing air outwards, as long as not towards you could help.  

 

A personal air purifier maybe could help. 

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I agree about a face shield, and about seeking an employment attorney.  I'd also think about whether the things you need to do can be done during off hours.   Maybe on the weekend, or evenings? 

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56 minutes ago, bolt. said:

Can you put a line on the floor around your desk-or-whatever? Like a 6-ft radius octagon?

He sounds like a straight-talk guy, meaning he will mock you, but if you say, "Unless you want me working from home, I want you on the other side of that line. I deserve my personal space. I'm allowed to disagree with you about the precautions I want to take." -- So, he will have his manly emotions about that, and he won't make any secret of whatever contempt he might feel (so that's going to suck) but strong words and a visual aid might actually keep his saliva further from your mucous membranes. And that's the goal.

So, even if he puts his hands up and says, "Oooooh! Gotta stay out of your octagon of fear!" -- as long as he takes a step back as part of his little self-serving drama tableau, mission accomplished for you. You don't care what he says or how he feels. You care how far viruses flow on air currents. Take the label. Be the paranoid fanatic. It's no fun to be looked down on, but you can take it. Keep safe.

 

I like this idea a lot except that coughing is going to send droplets farther than 6’ almost certainly, let alone possible aerosols. 

 

How about a plexiglass contained zone ?

 

Edited by Pen

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41 minutes ago, Tanaqui said:

If you're still going in, you should open up whatever windows you can, tie nylon over your mask, and wear a face shield as well. And wash your hands every hour, on the hour, in addition to after going to the bathroom, before eating, and when entering and leaving the office.

Have you seen the links to this? It can help your mask get close to N95 filtration. I would do that for sure.  (Although really, I don’t imagine I would stay given what you’ve said.) Also just a general reminder to all that a non-fit tested N95 may or may not work as well to protect yourself as a better fitting, well constructed cloth mask. Depends on the fit of each.

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This is from the OSHA (occupational health and safety administration) website. It is part of the labor department. One of the first things I was taught when I started working was in America was where the OSHA handbook was. I studied it always. Even in IT we had OSHA people come in yearly. Since I do not know what field you are in, I checked for OSHA COVID response. I found this. I don't know if any of this helps, but if your boss thinks the virus is overblown perhaps you could show this. It is a government website. 

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/controlprevention.html#interim

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7 hours ago, MEmama said:


That’s a good idea about the N95. I do have one. Can I wear it that often? I think I’ve seen ways they can be sanitized. 

 

My husband is involved in testing mask sterilization methods for a local hospital. You can do it in the oven at 170F for 30 min, though some home ovens don't maintain a consistent temperature. A rice cooker is a simpler home option with the steam effectively sterilizing the mask.

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12 minutes ago, GoodGrief1 said:

 

My husband is involved in testing mask sterilization methods for a local hospital. You can do it in the oven at 170F for 30 min, though some home ovens don't maintain a consistent temperature. A rice cooker is a simpler home option with the steam effectively sterilizing the mask.

Oops, I said 270º - I remembered it wrong; it was 170º - should have double-checked before typing!  Listen to her, not me! 😱

Just went back and edited previous post so no one else reads it and does it wrong! 

Edited by Matryoshka

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