As we enter the next phase of this pandemic, cloth face coverings are going to become a key part of our everyday lives. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is recommending everyone wear a cloth mask or face covering in public. Many Americans have a negative connotation with masks, but as we work to end this pandemic as a society, masks are imperative and should be seen as symbol of social responsibility.
What does a mask or face covering do? Even simple cloth masks are able to stop exhalation of contagious droplets in many cases – at least two layers of heavy cotton t-shirt material. A study from the University of Hong Kong and the University of Maryland found that when people with respiratory viral infections wore a cloth mask, shedding of the virus was reduced to 4% from 30% of the time. While not perfect, cloth masks can help us reduce the spread of coronavirus!
To effectively put on your mask, follow these simple steps:
- Wash hands before
- Avoid touching face and the part of mask that will be covering your mouth and nose
- Adjust mask so coverage goes from bridge of nose to under chin and at least halfway towards ears, and fits snugly (but not painfully tight)
- When removing mask, don’t let outside surface touch your mouth or nose
- Wash hands after removing mask
- Wash mask fabric between uses
As we begin wearing face masks in public, please do not use N95 respirators or any other sort of medical grade mask as we need to reserve these for our medical professionals and other front-line personnel who are coming in direct contact with patients with COVID-19.
Please also do not try to disinfect paper masks by putting them in a microwave as these masks are not designed to take such extreme environments. Doing so will damage the mask and reduce its filtering capabilities. Cloth masks can be disinfected after each use by putting them in a washing machine.
Everyone’s collective efforts are helping slow the spread of coronavirus and the impact on our medical infrastructure to treat those most at risk. Please continue to wash your hands, practice social distancing measures and wear a cloth mask in public.