What’s the deal with face masks?
The new CDC recommendation that the general public should wear a cloth face cover has caused a stir since for the last several weeks, we have heard that we don’t need them. I am here to demystify this recommendation and help you understand how to continue to fight this pandemic.
This new recommendation comes on the heels of two general milestones in the study of the pandemic. First, there is mounting evidence that transmission of the virus can occur even from people showing no symptoms. Second, the number of COVID-19 cases are increasing exponentially in several hot spots around the country. Personal protective equipment [PPE], like the face covers/masks, are additional controls that may be added to help stop the spread. This type of control is truly meant to be used as an added precaution in addition to social distancing and hand washing that is already in place. This particular type of control is never meant to replace the other recommendations as it is not designed as stand-alone risk mitigation.
What kind of mask do I need and how do they work?
The CDC is recommending a cloth face cover that fits snugly across the face. This stops short of recommending any surgical or N95 mask that will be used in a healthcare setting, where there may be a higher probability of airborne exposure.
In our socially distant world, staying 6 feet apart, washing your hands, and staying home drastically reduces the probability of exposure. These measures will sufficiently protect you from contracting the virus with or without the face cover. The face cover will help with your spread of the virus should you be carrying the virus without symptoms. In other words, the face cover is to protect people from you, instead of in the healthcare environment where the mask is meant to protect the healthy worker from ambient airborne virus. The face cover is meant to block the large droplets of fluid that come from just breathing and help to slow down the smaller droplets such that they do not travel as far in air. Again, these droplets can be avoided more sufficiently by practicing social distancing and proper hand hygiene.
How do I wear one?
The mask should fit snugly and cover your nose and mouth. It should be made of comfortable, non-irritating fabric. Donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) should be done with properly washed hands. The mask should be doffed by grasping the elastics and pulling them from around your ears. Do your best to not touch the front of the mask after wear and wash your hands again after handling the soiled/worn mask. My personal recommendation is to launder the mask in hot water and detergent after every wear.
How to obtain (or make your own) masks:
First of all, everyone is making masks right now, and it's such a beautiful thing to see! There are several ways to make your own face mask using household items, with or without a sewing machine. I saw this idea on Facebook the other day, but you can also make your own masks out of a bandana and hair ties! Here's a great tutorial for you to try.
Communities are really coming together to make sure everyone has access to a mask, plus it's supporting local clothiers. You should be able to find someone nearby making them for you to buy or even use for free.
Click here for more information and recommendations from the CDC.
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About the Contributor:
Nina Gutierrez-Garcia is a mom who clearly doesn’t sleep. She is a mom to a busy 6 year-old, a health physicist, a small business owner (a modern children’s clothing store,THE TOT COMMODITY) and is extremely active in her community. She’s mostly known for her creative, close-knit, snarky and hilarious family that she shares with the world through personal and business social media accounts. Her motto as a human is, laugh as hard as you can, love with everything you’ve got and only take it seriously if you absolutely have to.