Wearing a face mask to control the spread of COVID-19 has become a hot topic in the United States, with the nation divided. Whether or not to wear a mask is more of a political debate than a health topic for many. Sadly, the miscommunication that has taken place in the U.S. hasn’t helped much. Back in February, in an effort to ensure that healthcare professionals had a sufficient supply of N95 masks and personal protection equipment, the CDC advised the general public against wearing face masks, but now things have changed.
10. The CDC and Face Masks
As cases of COVID-19 started to increase in the United States and governors started to order lockdowns and issue shelter-in-place orders, the CDC announced that people should start to wear face masks in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Sadly, because their initial stance against face masks had been widely publicized at the start of the pandemic, many people refused to listen to the CDC’s advice on wearing face masks. Even President Trump and Vice President Pence refused to don facial coverings in support of the CDC and the World Health Organization’s stance on masks.
9. Face Masks to Control COVID-19
At the start of June, the fatality rate in the USA from COVID-19 stood at over 100,000 deaths. That number has been steadily increasing and many states are experiencing record daily infection rate numbers. On June 18, Florida reported over 3500 cases, Texas experienced over 5000 cases, and Arizona over 2000. The spike in numbers is causally related to the states opening back up and returning to business as usual. However, the increased numbers have sent government officials scrambling to control the spread by mandating face masks in many regions.
8. Mandatory Face Masks
Many large cities are stepping to the plate with face mask mandates. New York and Los Angeles paved the way by requiring that any time someone goes outside they must wear a face mask. In Florida, Orange County (Orlando region), Pinellas County, and Tampa Bay have issued face mask mandates that take effect June 19 to slow the spread of the virus. Other cities and counties are suggesting that residents of the area wear a face mask when they cannot maintain a social distance of six feet or more.
7. Should Everyone Wear a Face Mask?
Many people argue that they do not feel sick, so why do they have to wear a face mask? The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that as many as 80 percent of people who contract COVID-19 are asymptomatic carriers or develop only mild symptoms, and many individuals may not even know they are sick. This is especially true for younger individuals and children, who often contract the virus and exhibit no symptoms but can easily spread it to vulnerable individuals in the population.
6. Not Wearing a Face Mask Increases the Risk of Contracting COVID-19
A recent study led by a professor at the Texas A&M University found that not wearing a face mask significantly increases your risk of contracting COVID-19. The research team examined how COVID-19 spreads from person to person. They used mitigation research from New York City, China, and Italy. Interestingly they found that the numbers of infection were significantly reduced when people wore face masks. Airborne transmission through respiratory aerosols remains the number one way that COVID-19 is spread. Wearing a face mask in public helps reduce the risk of transmission significantly.Related: Face Masks: When You Need to Clean Them
5. Is a Face Mask Enough?
Ideally, a face mask should always be used in conjunction with other mitigation practices such as frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When you are out, you should maintain a social distance of at least six feet. Also, wipe down surfaces frequently using a disinfectant. If you can stay home or work from your home remotely, then it is suggested that you shelter in place and avoid going out as much as possible. In addition, you should try to avoid crowds, which are serious vectors of the virus.
4. How to Properly Wear a Face Mask
Your mask must cover the area from the bridge of your nose down across your mouth to under your chin. The mask does not need to fit tightly but should stay in place. You should be able to talk with the mask on your face. Make sure that it does not irritate your skin or rub raw spots anywhere. When the mask is on your face, avoid touching it or adjusting the fit. You should not touch the mask or your face at all without first washing your hands with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer.
3. What to Look for in a Face Mask
If you opt to wear a cloth face mask, make sure it is made of two layers of fabric. There should be ear loops or ties so you can easily adjust the mask to get the perfect fit for your face or head. If you wear glasses, try to find a mask that sports a bendable border on the top so you can mold it down and across your nose bridge and then place the glasses on top to keep them from fogging over.
2. Do You Need an N95?
Initially, N95 masks were being reserved for healthcare workers, as the United States faced a shortage. However, companies have recently increased production of the masks substantially, so now they are widely available to the public. However, if you cannot find or afford an N95 mask then you can still wear a cloth or paper mask to successfully protect yourself and others from contracting COVID-19.
1. Making Your Own Masks
Yes, you can make your own mask by using material to create two layers. Sew them together and attach elastic for ear loops. Choose to fashion the masks from cotton fabrics, cotton sheets, or quilting cotton. If you are unsure about the fabric, hold it up to the light and look to see the density of the weave. If you see very few tiny holes, then it is ideal. However, if you see a lot of light, such as with stretchy knots, then you should pick another type of fabric.
Other options include:
- Using a bandanna
- Fashioning a mask from a hand towel
- Choosing to wear a scarf around your nose and mouth