New information is emerging daily on how the new coronavirus spreads and the best practices to shield against COVID-19. The most effective measures include washing your hands frequently with water and soap and practicing social distancing.
However, wearing coverings or cloth face masks in public when social distancing can’t be observed does offer protection against the spread of COVID-19.
Can a face mask stop coronavirus from spreading?
Face masks help stop the spread of COVID-19(1). Because it’s possible to have coronavirus without displaying symptoms, it is best to wear a face-covering even if you think you are not infected. A mask helps block small droplets from your nose and mouth when you sneeze, talk, or cough.
If you have COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, a face mask minimizes your chance of spreading it to others. If you are healthy, a mask can shield you from bigger droplets from people near you.
Different levels of masks are suitable for different needs and situations.
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Should You Wear a Covering or Face Mask for Coronavirus Protection?
If you are in public places where you will come across other people, you must wear a mask.
How to properly wear a face mask?
Your mask must cover your face from the bridge of your nose to under your chin. It should be comfortable-fitting but still safe enough to stay tight.
Make sure you can speak with your mask on and that it doesn’t annoy you, so you are not compelled to pull it out of place or touch it, which could limit its effectiveness or put you at risk from touching your face.
Here is how masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Masks for the Public
According to the CDC, the latest studies indicate a significant portion of people who have COVID-19 are asymptomatic, and the virus can spread before they realize they are ill. This study — combined with the fact that the coronavirus can spread through closeness to others, often by coughing, speaking, or sneezing —
Led to their recommendation for the common public to wear cloth masks in general, especially in conditions where social distancing may be challenging, such as on public transportation or grocery stores, and in regions where there is a considerable amount of community transmission.
Masks for COVID-19 Patients and Their Caregivers
In order to secure from the spread of droplets, a cloth or surgical mask should be worn in a home condition by those with COVID-19 when they are around others. If the sick patient cannot wear a mask, their caretaker should wear a mask. Patients being treated in hospital ambiance will follow hospital guidelines.
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Protective Equipment and Masks for Health Care Workers
Health care workers treating and testing patients for COVID-19
Anyone interacting directly with people sick or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 needs professional masks, such as N95 masks built for medical use. N95 masks fit the face snugly and filter the air to block respiratory droplets from getting through or around the device.
Besides, patients with COVID-19 should wear special protective gear, including face shields that protect the nose, eyes, and mouth from contamination from respiratory droplets and respirators or masks.
What are the Best Types of COVID-19 Face Masks?
Called N95 respirators, these medical devices are designed to prevent exposure to tiny droplets that can stay afloat in the air. Health care professionals who wear them undergo a fit-test to find the right model, make, and size to ensure a secure seal.
The N95 respirators are presently in very short supply and should be reserved for first responders and healthcare providers.
Surgical and Procedural Masks
These are comfort-fitting masks designed to cover the nose and mouth.
Do surgical masks shield against coronavirus?
Although they are not tight-fitting, blue, disposable masks are fluid resistant and provide some protection against larger respiratory droplets from sneezes and coughs. They prevent the wearer from transmitting infectious droplets to nearby people.
Like N95 respirators, these masks are worn by healthcare professionals whose safety depends on a sufficient supply. They are not washable.
Paper or Cloth Masks
According to the CDC, these masks can help slow the transmission of COVID-19 and help keep patients who may unknowingly have the virus from spreading it to others.
Can I make my cloth mask?
Some people are making masks out of linen or cotton or bandanas or even t-shirts. There are several patterns available, like child-size masks, for use in non-patient care settings. Cloth masks should and can be washed on a daily basis.
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What materials in my closet can I use to create a mask or face covering?
- Scarves, bandannas, hand towels, or any items made of linen or cotton are the right places to begin.
- More densely woven and thicker cotton fabrics are best, such as cotton sheets or quilting cotton.
- Stretchy knits are not suitable.
- Hold the fabric through the light: The fewer little holes you can see, the more effective it will work to filter droplets.
- Overall, making an effective mask involves finding a balance: You want a fabric that doesn’t permit droplets to pass through while making sure you can still breathe air sufficiently while wearing a mask.
What should you be looking for when buying a mask?
Go for masks made with a minimum of two layers of fabric. It should cover your mouth and nose without significant gaps. The mask should have ties or ear loops so you can adjust it. For glass wearing people, go for a mask with a bendable border at the top to mold the mask to fix the bridge of the nose and prevent the lenses from fogging.
Professional masks should be made available for healthcare professionals on the front lines caring for patients.
It’s logical to want to do everything possible to shield yourself from becoming ill in times of a pandemic. While wearing a mask will stop you from transmitting COVID-19 if you have it and don’t know it, physical distancing and thorough, frequent handwashing are still the best ways to avoid getting COVID-19.