When you leave the house to go to work or get groceries, you take your keys, wallet, phone, and now your face mask. It has become a part of your being, and most cities in the United States require them in public settings, where social distancing isn’t possible. Since medical grade face masks and N95 respirators are in short supply and intended for health workers, you have to wear regular fabric masks, be they homemade or purchased from a retailer.
The “some protection is better than no protection” mindset doesn’t really apply to facial coverings during the pandemic. You can’t throw a piece of a T-shirt over your face and think you are safe. Some masks are simply better than others, offering varying levels of protection against COVID-19. Since the virus doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, your face mask game needs to be strong to keep yourself healthy and safe.
All Masks Are Not Created Equal
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) issued recommendations for face coverings in public. At the time of this recommendation, there was limited research on the effectiveness of materials against the virus. Now, a new study revealed which masks or materials offer the best protection. Previous studies offered limited information about cloth-based face coverings, but the new study gives more insight for how to best protect yourself from COVID-19.
The Most Protective Masks
The N95 respirator mask provides the most protection, but the average person should not purchase this mask. Since this mask is beneficial for health care workers, please refrain from buying it because they are in short supply. Homemade masks need to contain at least two layers of cotton fabric for effective protection. To decrease the risk of transmission, make sure that the fabric you use in your mask is tightly woven. Flannel is excellent! If you can see through the fabric, don’t use it.
The Worst Masks To Wear
Despite the fact that a high percentage of people cover their nose and mouth with bandanas, they tested horribly against COVID-19. Handkerchiefs and bandanas are basically ineffective and should not be worn. Please do not use these materials to cover your face if you have other, better options available to you.
Social Distancing Is Still Necessary
Just because we outlined the best materials to protect yourself against COVID-19, that doesn’t give you an excuse to forget about social distancing. Facial coverings alone cannot protect against respiratory pathogens. Wearing masks, social distancing, and hand washing is the ultimate trifecta for keeping yourself healthy and safe. Don’t forget about eating a balanced diet that is full of colorful fruits and vegetables! Additionally, monitor high-risk areas like grocery stores, restaurants, or gyms, which have reopened in certain states.
Aversion To Wearing Masks
Some people feel that the requirement to wear a mask is a violation of their rights, or an invasion of privacy. If we want to move past this pandemic, we all need to work together and follow the health guidelines, which include wearing a mask. We have to protect ourselves, others, and vulnerable members of society (i.e. those with underlying health conditions or people over age 65). Let’s work together to slow the curve. Wear masks, remain socially distant, and take care of your physical health by exercising and eating healthy.