3. Masks with Vents
Most people will say that a mask with a vent allows them to breathe more freely—which it does. And that’s the reason why they’re not an appropriate type of mask to use during a pandemic situation. These vents, called exhalation valves, allow the wearer to breathe out without filtering their breath. These masks are for use in cases where the wearer is healthy but must work with people who are ill.
Masks with vents work well at preventing the wearer from getting infected. However, the vents do not protect the people around the wearer. If the wearer of a vented mask is an asymptomatic COVID-positive person, the vent allows the person to spread the virus freely. There is a definite danger of the wearer spreading the virus, especially if the wearer doesn’t know they’re infected.
2. Non-Medical Grade “Surgical” Face Masks
You may spot non-medical grade “surgical masks” in the stores. Although they’re convenient and disposable, they’re not exactly as effective as those used in hospitals. However, medical masks like the N95 and surgical face masks are better left to the people who need them most: frontline hospital workers. The non-medical grade store-bought face masks can be a viable option. When purchasing non-medical “surgical masks,” choose the masks with multiple layers to increase their efficacy.
1. Face Shields
Face shields are made to protect the eyes from droplets; they’re not meant as a barrier for the nose and mouth. Face shields should be worn as an addition to, not instead of, a face mask. Though face shields may feel much less restrictive than a face mask, droplets can easily flow out around the shield. Without a face mask, a face shield doesn’t protect against an airborne virus like SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccines are here, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to be complacent. The pandemic continues to ravage parts of the U.S., and hospitals are almost at capacity. To get the pandemic down to a manageable level, it takes everyone’s help to remain socially distanced, diligent about hand washing, and wear a good face mask. The best way to make a face mask work its magic? Wear it.