To Protect Your Community From COVID 19 By Wearing Facemasks In Public

On April 27, 2020

To Protect Your Community From COVID 19 By Wearing Facemasks In Public

Last week I was asked by a reader who has medical conditions putting this person at high risk for the COVID 19 virus to include a description of the proper way to wear face masks in this week’s column. This person recently made a quick trip to purchase milk and observed other shoppers who were not wearing their masks properly. This at risk person reported  “seeing shoppers wearing bandanas as masks. There were not wearing them properly.  They had the bandanas folded in into a triangle, loosely covering their faces. They kept touching their faces to lift the bandanas back over their noses…as they kept falling down. They also did not have the bottom of the bandanas secured, potentially allowing for germs to fall on to food items, counters, etc.  The reader pointed out bandanas need to fit securely over the face and mouth…and touching your face to position them is a no-no!”

Extension Educator Debra Griffie provides the following guidance on wearing masks. On April 19, 2020, a new order went into effect requiring face masks for anyone shopping or working in grocery stores, pharmacies or any other business that is authorized to be open during the COVID-19 pandemic. This order was put into place to protect customers and workers at essential businesses in the Commonwealth. However, the order does not take the place of social distancing when entering these establishments. Individuals who have trouble breathing or who cannot wear a mask because of a medical condition, as well as children under the age of 2, are exempt from wearing face masks.

Cloth masks are recommended for the general public, while surgical masks and N95 respirators should be exclusively reserved for healthcare workers. Wearing a mask does not replace regular hand washing and social distancing. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines important steps for safe mask use. Before putting on a mask, always start by washing your hands with soap and water- or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The mask should fit snugly but comfortably around the mouth and nose and against the side of the face. If you are using a bandana, it should be folded and secured for a snug fit, as well. It should allow for breathing without restriction. Once properly adjusted, avoid touching the mask while using it. If you do, wash your hands immediately.

To remove the mask: remove it from behind, do not touch the front of the mask. Face masks should not be worn when they are damp or wet from spit or mucus. Cloth masks should be washed after every use. Always wash your hands after removing the mask. Whether making your own or purchasing one, cloth masks should be made from two layers of tightly woven 100% cotton fabric and secured with ties or ear loops. Cloth masks should be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to the shape.

To Check Your Peach Orchard For Frost Damage

Cold temperatures on the morning of April 17, 2020, caused damage to some Pennsylvania peach orchards. Weather stations at the Fruit Research and Extension Center in Adams County showed that there was a strong temperature inversion about 5 a.m. with calm winds. Professor of Pomology James Schupp reports the temperature at 837 feet elevation above sea level was 31°F, while at 810 feet elevation, it was 28°F. At 730 ft. elevation, we recorded 25°on a second weather station.

The differences in air temperature caused by the inversion resulted in a wide range of crop damage estimates. Melanie Schupp examined between 120 and 160 fruits and recorded the elevation of several blocks. Fruitlet death was evident by the browning of the ovules.

The peaches at higher elevation had almost no injury, while those at elevations below 800 ft sustained significant damage. This was especially noteworthy in the Redhaven block which is situated on the side of a hill. At the top (828 ft) there was no damage, while 67% were dead just 9 rows down at 795 ft.

Growers are advised to cut some fruits and check for dark centers, paying attention to elevation. If damage is noted you should alert your crop insurance adjuster.

To Scout For Alfalfa Weevil

Extension Entomologist John Tooker reports that the alfalfa weevil is active, particularly in the southern tier counties and on warmer, south-facing slopes. Young alfalfa weevil larvae cause pin hole-sized damage to leaves near the tips of plants, often on unfolded leaves. Older larvae consume leaves that are more open, typically leaving jagged edges. Much of this early season feeding does not result in economic loss, but it is good to recognize the damage and be aware of which fields have greater activity. 

Those fields with larger populations will, of course, be where economically significant populations are more likely to develop, but keep in mind that most fields will not require an insecticide application and you should scout to quantify your own populations, rather than just spraying blindly. Economic thresholds for alfalfa weevil are determined from the size of plants, the value of the hay, the cost of insecticidal treatment, and the number of larvae per 30 stems of alfalfa.  To sample weevil larvae, systematically select 30 stems from across a field and shake them into a bucket.  If the number of larvae exceeds the threshold, a treatment might be warranted.  See our Alfalfa Weevil fact sheet  Alfalfa Weevil fact sheet for thresholds and more details on alfalfa weevil biology.

Quote Of The Week: “Adversity reveals character; prosperity hides it.” Suzanne Woods Fisher Amish Proverbs