Have you heard about the grandmother who missed her grandchildren so much that her granddaughter devised a contraption with plastic tablecloths so that she could hug her treasures? The tablecloth was transformed into a shield in the middle of the front lawn and her grandchild designed plastic gloves in the middle of the sheeting so that her grandmother could hug her. Or what about the latest in protective gear, the plastic mouth masks?
Plastic trash bags, plastic tablecloths, plastic curtains and single use grocery shopping bags are more crucial now than ever before. Plastic is here to stay. With the added incentive of lower oil prices, both because of the decrease in fuel oil use and the domestication of the oil market, plastics prices are going down. However, this has nothing to do with the main reason for the very important implementation of plastics in the economy. The number one reason why plastic products are so desirable is safety, safety, safety. It cannot be emphasized too much.
From supermarkets to nail salons, everyone is hopping on the plastic barrier bandwagon. Custom plastic sneeze guards, face masks made from plastic and many other new innovations are being introduced rapidly to this every changing world we are now living in.
It’s both interesting and surprising that the two most popular retail stores were allowed to stay open from the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Target and Walmart continued their in store shopping along with their online sales. (Some people were surprised that these retailers were considered necessary venues. Yes, they sell food and pharmaceutical products but they also sell clothing and accessories as well. Why would they be allowed to remain open while smaller clothing, shoe and accessory retailers had to close shop? There is no logical answer to this question. However, I do wonder if private stores would have wanted in reality to be open for business and allowing customers with possible Covid to enter their stores. Some of these shops claim that social distancing would be more easily implemented in their small stores than in department stores, since they could just have one or two customers at a time.)
According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus spreads from person to person via small droplets from the mouth and nose by sneezing and coughing. How can a customer shop safely during these trying times?
Plastic Sheeting and Tablecloth Protection
Essential convenience stores have stayed open in Japan even as most businesses closed. 7-Eleven’s owner, Seven & Holdings, requested that not only should all store workers wear masks, wash their hands often and clean surfaces with disinfectants, but the company has installed transparent plastic curtains as barriers between lanes and customers as well.
Custom Sneeze Guards
Many popular chain stores are using custom sneeze guards to encourage social distancing. These industry leaders are revamping their stores to assure safe shopping for their loyal customers.
Custom sneeze guards can provide a protective shield against any harmful organisms that can be transferred from one person to another during shopping. Both the customers and the store employees are protected with these inventive protective solutions.
Barbers, hairdressers and nail salons are using different types of plastic made fixtures to assure safety in the reopening of their business establishments. Besides for masks and gloves, these types of businesses have to be sure that they do not have very close contact with their customers both for the customer’s safety and their employee's safety as well. Even if someone has been tested positive for antibodies and negative for COVID-19, there is still the fear of the unknown, re-contamination.
Holly, the owner of a nail salon in Marlton, New Jersey spoke about the new portable plastic plexiglass shield guards that her husband designed and built especially for her newly opened nail salon. Not long after Holly opened her brand new salon, The Nail Garden, the pandemic hit, forcing her to close just as soon as she opened. Holly’s husband is a builder by profession so Holly had a built in designer in her midst. Asked if she would keep using her custom sneeze guards when the pandemic ends, Holly answered that it would be up to the customer since the plastic sneeze guards are portable and can be lifted up or placed back at a customer’s preference.
The human race is always out to be creative whether in positive or negative situations. By the end of World War II, America had invented the ultimate weapon of destruction, the atom bomb, which caused our country to be victorious. We are waging a world war presently against the coronavirus. Our enemy is not a country but an infinitesimal microscopic organism. G-d willing a vaccine will be discovered sooner than later. Desperation breeds creativity. Until that time, may it come very soon, resourceful people are adapting new and ingenious improvements to standard protective gear such as masks.
Safe’N’Clear Communicator Mask
Can you sense a smile while speaking to someone wearing a mask? Sometimes eyes give it away. Often, however, it is so confusing to identify the emotions going on beneath the mask. Imagine, the added difficulty for someone hard of hearing or deaf. What if a deaf person needs to communicate with a doctor or another health care professional?
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Safe’N’Clear communicator mask created by Dr. Anne McIntosh. As hard as it is for hearing individuals to communicate without seeing lips moving, the prime language for the hearing impaired is visual communication. This is causing extreme isolation in a group which is already isolated by their lack of hearing.
Some stores, like Starbucks in Rochester, New York, are sensitive to the needs of the hard of hearing and supply a roll of paper to this group to write their orders. A display screen notifies the customer when their order is ready. Rochester, New York has a higher population of hearing impaired individuals than some other cities. Brenda Schertz, a member of the Rochester hearing impaired community and a sign language interpreter explains, that in public places, they depend significantly on facial expression and visual signals on people’s faces, and lip reading is no longer possible with everyone wearing masks. Even a question as simple as cash or credit, gets lost in the world of the deaf or hearing impaired.
The introduction of the see through mask with a plastic insert has broken down the barriers of communication within the special hearing impaired community. This mask has a plastic insert in the middle where the mouth is allowing these fine people to read the lips of the person wearing this mask.
These masks will not only benefit the community we have been writing about but for all of us as well. Think how different a visit will be to our grandchildren when they can actually see how happy we are to see them. With socially distancing still advisable, they can see that huge smile on our faces that they remember so well.
Remote Control Eating Mask
Although, some of us would not think of entering a restaurant in these worrisome times, surprisingly there are many others who cannot wait to re enter their favorite eating spots.
Asaf Gitelis, of Israel, has invented the eating mask. There are three versions of these masks currently under development by Avtipus Patents and Inventions, a company situated not far from Tel Aviv, Israel. Investors are already waiting impatiently to see their money doubled by these masks.
The first type of mask was developed in just a few days using a 3D printer. The customer squeezes a lever similar to a bicycle handbrake, which opens a slot in the front of the mask allowing the food to pass through. This is more practical for solid food than for ice cream or sauces which can get messy. The second type of mask has a mechanical remote control and the third type of mask has an “optical sensor and a small motor which lets the mask open automatically”. For example, when the fork or spoon comes near the mouth, the plastic mouthpiece will automatically open for the food. When the fork leaves, the plastic apparatus will close by itself.
Other Innovations in Mask Production
What about a mask that would automatically light up when it comes into contact with Covid? Harvard University together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working on this type of mask.
The NFL is hoping that their September 2020 season will open timely. They are testing a,”helmet faceguard that can provide the same type of protection as a regular surgical mask.” (I’m wondering if anyone has developed the “less than six feet” app for smartphones. If anyone comes within six feet of you, your phone will buzz or give any type of pleasant or unpleasant message, much as the newer cars beep if your car comes too close to another car on the highway).
Plastic components are leading the way in the world of manufacturing. Their sanitariness and disposability are so important during this pandemic and when it is over as well. Let’s hope and pray that when we are allowed once again to be near and touch each other once again, it will be only for the good and not for any violent reasons.
Meanwhile, the creative side of our brains keeps coming up with new ideas to keep both children and adults occupied. By the way, did you know that just as masks were hard to come by at the start of the pandemic, it’s almost impossible to find a bike in a store or online that you do not have to put together yourself?