DO I NEED TO WEAR A FACE MASK?
IS THE MASK I AM WEARING APPROPRIATE?
HEALTH CARE WORKERS clearly need face masks to protect themselves and their patients from the new coronavirus. The public might also benefit from wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s what to consider:
• Which type of face mask is most effective?
• How do you wear and dispose of your mask?
• What are current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on mask use for the public?
• Types of Masks
• Face-protection options range from hospital-grade surgical masks and respirators to makeshift face coverings like bandannas.
• Surgical masks and N95 respirators, often simply called respirators, are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (with some collaboration with the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety on respirators). Both types of masks are tested (to be cleared for marketing) for fluid resistance, filtration efficiency, flammability and bio-compatibility.
• Gold standard is the N95 respirators because it offers more protection for health care workers performing medical procedures that expose them to patients’ respiratory secretions, such as placing a tube to open a patient’s airway.
o Every health care worker is properly fit for these masks so if you do not know your size you may be doing yourself a disservice by wearing one that is not properly fit as well as taking PPE away from health care workers. N95 are not meant to be worn to the grocery store these are meant for people who are care for patient sick with Corona or Persons under investigation. These again are ONE time use only unless covered with a surgical mask over the top so as not to contaminate the outside of the mask.
o The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first-responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
Flat, rectangular surgical face masks are made of thin, paper-like material. The mask fits loosely around your nose, mouth and chin. Surgical masks are disposable and NOT designed to be used more than ONCE.
I see people in the grocery store using paper masks that look like have been worn ten times. Every time you touch the outside of the mask you are contaminating the it with whatever surface you touch. If you are not used to wearing a mask you are more than likely touching it way more than you think. You are more like to infect yourself because you are then inclined to touch your face with the contaminated face mask.
If properly worn, surgical masks block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays or splatters that may contain germs like viruses and prevent them from reaching your mouth and nose, according to the FDA. In addition, surgical masks may reduce exposure to saliva and respiratory secretions.
Surgical Masks without face shields will NOT protect you against aerosols. This virus is considered both droplet and Aerosol. Aerosols can get into your tear ducts. If you are not wearing an eye shield, then you are not fully protecting yourself. Nor if you are not wearing a properly fitted mask.
Because surgical masks fit loosely rather than having a tight seal, they don’t provide an absolute barrier or complete protection against tiny particles in the air that may be released by coughs or sneezes. Cracks around the sides of the mouth WILL let particles in.
How to Wear a Cloth Face Covering
Cloth face coverings should—
• fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
• be secured with ties or ear loops
• include multiple layers of fabric
• allow for breathing without restriction
• be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
The World Health Organization offers advice for the public on how to use masks to protect against coronavirus infection:
• Inspect the mask for any holes or tears to make sure that it’s intact.
• Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol before putting on the mask.
• Cover your nose and mouth with the mask and make sure no gaps exist between it and your face.
• Avoid touching the mask while using it. Touching the front of your mask, which is exposed to the environment, can defeat the purpose of using it.
• If you do touch your mask, wash or sanitize your hands immediately.
• When your mask gets damp, replace it.
• Do not reuse these single-use masks.
• Remove your mask from behind rather than touching the front of the mask.
• Discard the used mask immediately in a closed trash bin and clean your hands again.
As of 4/3/2020
The CDC does recommend that healthy people wear a cloth face mask to protect themselves from COVID-19 (or other respiratory illnesses).
People who have symptoms of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 and their care givers should absolutely wear face masks around others to help prevent the virus’ spread, the CDC advises.
Further Questions :
1. Should cloth face coverings be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly? How regularly?
Yes. They should be routinely washed daily depending on the frequency of use.
2. How does one safely sterilize/clean a cloth face covering?
A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering.
3. How does one safely remove a used cloth face covering?
Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.
Things to consider :
As a lay person, using a cloth face mask, or continually wearing a surgical face mask whenever you leave your home, poses practical problems. “If you think about a bandanna or something that’s papery, it’s going to get wet through the day and be uncomfortable, and potentially you’re going to touch it more,” says Dr. Colleen Kraft, associate chief medical officer at Emory University Hospital and an associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. That reduces the mask’s effectiveness and actually could expose you to possible virus on its outer surface. Makes sure you have back up masks in case it gets wet or contaminated.
Mask or no mask, avoid touching the mucosal surfaces of your face – your mouth, nose and eyes, Rose says. Practice physical distancing to avoid contact with anyone who might be ill. Because the coronavirus can exist on surfaces, she adds, “It’s reasonable to take the additional measures of cleaning and disinfecting your surfaces daily.” It also makes sense to wash your hands after touching your cellphone or computer keyboard – even if you’re regularly wiping them down.