Lots of Americans are still not convinced that masks work even though evidence shows that masks, especially when coupled with social distancing do in fact slow the spread of coronavirus. (Here’s more evidence and another study).
As a response to those who say masks don’t work because “if air can get through the mask, so can virus particles,” Public Health RN and Infection Prevention Specialist Laura Hegarty-Moore said, “Of course some particles get through the mask but there’s a certain threshold called viral load that needs to be met in order for someone to get sick. Since a mask blocks a lot of the virus coming out, there’s likely not enough of a viral load escaping to make the person next to you sick.”
So instead of simply saying Wear a mask! we’d like to say, Wear a mask...properly! Let Mommy Sleep franchisee and Patient First’s Rachel Wolf, RN shares the most effective ways to wear a mask when out in public:
Surgical Masks– the light blue or green masks that have an appearance like paper.
- When you put it on, start by washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, hand sanitizer can be used as a secondary option if handwashing isn’t possible. When you pick up your mask, touch the sides/portion that goes around yours ears or head.
While they may not look like it, surgical masks have a top and bottom. The top is the straight part with wire and the wire should be pressed it to your nose, so it shapes to the bridge of your nose.
Masks worn below the nose are essentially useless and offer you and those around you no potential benefit.
- When you take a mask off, start by washing your hands, or sanitize. Remove by touching only the sides/portion that touched your ears or the back of your head.
- Never touch the inside of your mask! Once you do, that mask has been contaminated and is no longer safe to use.
- Surgical masks are meant for single use only. They are not made for multiple uses. If you must reuse it, use your clean hands to fold it so that the outside portion is exposed, and the inside is protected.
- If someone coughs or sneezes around you, or you are around someone who is sick, you MUST throw away your mask. This mask is now breeding bacteria between uses. If your mask gets wet, you must throw it away, it is no longer safe to use.
Cloth masks should be washed after EVERY use. The above rules all still apply, and if you do not have a wire insert to shape around your nose, just be sure it is at least covering your nose. Do not put a cloth mask back on if it becomes damp or wet, or if you’ve been around a sick person the last time you wore it, prior to washing it.
There are many types and designs of cloth masks, but comfort and fit should be considered the most important things, since keeping the mask on and properly fitted helps keep you safe.
Cotton and cloth face coverings DO break down after multiple washings so in addition to using a filter, be sure to use new masks periodically.
It is also recommended to use a filter in your cloth mask if you are able. If you don’t have access to HEPA grade filters, WebMD recommends paper products that can be found around the house such as coffee filters or paper towels. These should be thrown away after each use.
Masks are not recommended for babies and toddlers age 2 or younger.
The ideal situation to keep safe from covid19 in public is mask wearing combined with social distancing of 6 feet or more.