The mask mix-up is out there, and it’s time to make things right. Early in the COVID-19 epidemic, public health officials were stressing the potential ineffectiveness and dangers of face masks. Now they’re telling us to wear them whenever we’re out in public.
Despite early information from China, who found facemasks were an effective method of preventing the spread of COVID-19, North Americans were told there was insufficient evidence for their use. Why?
The public was dissuaded from wearing masks to have an adequate supply for healthcare workers. And that makes sense. The problem is that they didn’t tell us that. Instead, they said that masks encourage face touching and might increase your risk of infection.
Recent research now suggests masks are the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19
Now that supply has increased, and clothing manufacturers, artists, and more have begun to make them, it’s a good idea to get your hands on a few.
Washable, tightly-woven cloth masks with at least two layers of fabric are a good option. They are capable of blocking the virus from both leaving and entering the covering. Depending on how often it’s used, it needs to be washed daily or every few days.
If you wear it for about 20 minutes one day, for example, but then don’t need to wear it again for a few days, it doesn’t have to be washed immediately. If you wear it for a few hours or in a very crowded place, give it a wash.
I have three masks, and depending on frequency and duration, they get between one and four uses before a wash. When not wearing a mask, it’s advised to store the mask in a plastic bag.
Failing to keep masks clean can result in bacterial accumulation that may lead to lung problems. Also, make sure your mask fits tightly over your mouth and nostrils.
With summer temperatures in full swing in several areas, cloth masks can get a little hot and moist. If they get too wet, they can lose their ability to act as a barrier.
Although they lack the style of facemasks currently available, plastic face shields may be better for the summer heat. They can also provide a better barrier against viruses. These options are breathable and offer a full face-covering to protect various entry points from infection.
Whether you decide to use face masks or shields, keeping your mouth and nose covered can help contain the spread of the virus. Help protect yourself and your community by wearing a face covering while you’re out this summer.