First, I hope you are all safe and sound. If you are reading this I assume you are at least in a position to be ok. Keep up with the social distancing and if you are going to cover your face, please pay attention.
I’ve been a vocal proponent of people NOT wearing masks from the beginning of the outbreak. The primary reason is they offer little protection to the wearer and most people contaminate or negate any protections given by wearing a mask. More importantly, masks are in such short supply the people who need them most cannot get them. If all the healers are sick and you get sick, who will treat you? I work in public safety and I cannot stress this enough! And, unless you are already required to wear an N95 mask, you most likely will not benefit from wearing one.
Experts and the CDC were against recommending masks for many of the reasons I’m about to go into below. However, because of updated info they have now changed that recommendation. There is one reason for this change. A large percentage of people can have little to no symptoms. These folks can be mass spreaders of the virus without even realizing it.1
- If you are going to wear a mask or face covering, you are doing so to protect others from you. You are not protecting yourself. It might make you feel better but you shouldn’t let your guard down. Droplets contaminated with the virus can pass right thru a face mask with relative ease. Plus, the longer you wear it, the more moisture builds up, which can inadvertently trap particles right in front of your mouth.
- The goal is to prevent less particles from spewing into the air potentially infecting others. Combined with social distancing of 6 feet, a mask can be more effective than not wearing one, as long as you remember bullet point one above. The recommendation of 6 feet is based on the relative distance breath particles are expelled when a person coughs. People wearing masks often feel a sense of safety and are less likely to engage in proper social distancing. Please do not fall for this.
- Do not rush out and try to buy masks if you don’t already have one. You can use a bandanna, scarf, or other dense piece of fabric. You can google “bandanna face mask” for several super quick and easy tips for converting a bandanna to a face mask. These are no more or less effective than the regular masks you see. Most people incorrectly assume clinical staff wear masks for self-protection. No. They wear them to prevent exposing the sick or injured to more potential illnesses.
- Once on, do not adjust, touch, or otherwise move the mask unless you have just sanitized your hands. That means you don’t pull it down to talk. I see so many people doing this I just want to put head to desk over it.
- If using fabric or a mask that can be washed, wash it often. The longer you go without changing or sanitizing it the higher the risk to yourself. As mentioned, moisture and particles build up on the mask the longer you wear it.
Please, for the love of crackers, do not rush out and wear N95 masks unless you are trained to properly wear one.2 Every single person I’ve personally seen wearing an N95 in public has contaminated it at least once while observing them. N95 masks (or those rated higher) are the only masks that offer YOU any sense of protection. But just like regular masks, they are only as good as the safeguards you observe.
- RULE #1 N95 masks should only be touched by clean sanitized hands at all times. There are NO exceptions to this rule! Make sure your face is clean as well.
- No beard or goatee. A small mustache can be worn but it is not recommended. The mask needs to make a seal on your face and cannot do so with hair on your face. Oh yeah, now I have your attention! lolol
- If you have never worn an N95 mask please google the instructions on how to properly wear before attempting to do so. Once the mask is on, do not touch it for any reason unless you have thoroughly sanitized your hands. The moment you touch the mask to adjust it, move it, pull it up so you can speak, you have negated any protection it offers you. You might as well take it off. Please also review how to properly sanitize the mask if you plan to reuse it.
You should never wear a mask more than one day unless you have sanitized it. Reusable masks are an extremely high risk vector for exposure. Wash yo damn hands! And if you cover your face I hope my recommendations help. Yes, I know folks want to wear them so they don’t touch their face. Trust me, I know! I constantly touch my face. I’m with you. However, having a false sense of safety doesn’t actually protect you or others.
I leave you with well wishes and safety for you and yours.