The coronavirus emergency is often defined by unknowns, Covid-19 being a new virus. Unknowns raise questions, among them whether to wear a mask or not, in what circumstances, and in what manners. Here’s what’s known and recommended in those regards as of mid-April.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet), or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can be transmitted by touching your eyes, nose, mouth or inhaled through your lungs. A person can get COVID-19 by touching their own eyes, nose or mouth after touching a surface or object that has the virus on it.
We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (they’re called “asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. That may be true of up to 25 percent of individuals who are infected, though research also suggests that up to half of those infected don’t know that they’re carriers.
This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. That includes grocery stores and pharmacies, which are especially prone to significant community-based virus transmission.
This also means that some of the current information about who should wear face masks–at least as of April 14–on the Florida Department of Health’s website is outdated, as it recommends face masks only for health workers and those showing symptoms, though that information is in line with current recommendations from the World Health Organization, which still states that “There is currently no evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types) by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking, can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.” But the World Health Organization’s approach is more nuanced, and does not rule out the use of masks for healthy people.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Masks are only one tool.
|Trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor or|
|Going for a walk in the woods or in your
subdivision. But bring one in case you
encounter other people and stop to chat.
|Essential workers at a grocery store, pharmacy,|
or other business setting where they cannot
maintain at least 6 feet distance between
themselves and others.
|At home, if everyone in the home isn’t
showing symptoms .
|At home if you are sick and have other people in|
|Going for a run on the bike path, if it’s not too
|Home care workers caring for vulnerable|
|Who should never wear a mask:
• children under the age of 2
• anyone who has trouble breathing, or
• anyone who is unable to remove the
mask without assistance
|Riding the bus, taxi, or ride share, walking on a busy and crowded street (unlikely anywhere in Flagler).|
There are effective and ineffective ways of wearing a face mask. If you’re wearing a mask, don;t leave your chin exposed, don’t allow it to create gaps on the sides, don;t wear it just to cover the tip of your nose or your mouth but rather ensure that it encompasses the entirety of your face from the middle of your nose’s bridge down to below the chin, and don;t lower the mask and put it back on at intervals, when you think it’s not necessary–as when, say, you’re driving or happen to be in a more isolated location. Here is a step-by-step guide:
How to put on a face mask:
- Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask.
- Remove a mask from the box and make sure there are no obvious tears or holes in either side of the mask.
- Determine which side of the mask is the top. The side of the mask that has a stiff bendable edge is the top and is meant to mold to the shape of your nose.
- Determine which side of the mask is the front. The colored side of the mask is usually the front and should face away from you, while the white side touches your face.
- Follow the instructions below for the type of mask you are using.
- Face Mask with Ear loops: Hold the mask by the ear loops. Place a loop around each ear.
- Face Mask with Ties: Bring the mask to your nose level and place the ties over the crown of your head and secure with a bow.
- Face Mask with Bands: Hold the mask in your hand with the nosepiece or top of the mask at fingertips, allowing the headbands to hang freely below hands. Bring the mask to your nose level and pull the top strap over your head so that it rests over the crown of your head. Pull the bottom strap over your head so that it rests at the nape of your neck.
- Mold or pinch the stiff edge to the shape of your nose.
- If using a face mask with ties: Then take the bottom ties, one in each hand, and secure with a bow at the nape of your neck.
- Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.
- Try not to touch the mask once it is secured on your face as frequent handling may reduce its protection. If you must do so, wash your hands before and after touching the mask.
How to remove a face mask
- Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask.Avoid touching the front of the mask. The front of the mask is contaminated. Only touch the ear loops/ties/band.Follow the instructions below for the type of mask you are using.
- Face Mask with Ear loops: Hold both of the ear loops and gently lift and remove the mask.
- Face Mask with Ties: Untie the bottom bow first then untie the top bow and pull the mask away from you as the ties are loosened.
- Face Mask with Bands: Lift the bottom strap over your head first then pull the top strap over your head.
- Throw the mask in the trash. Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.
Potential Risks of Masks to Keep in Mind
• self-contamination that can occur by touching and reusing contaminated mask.
• depending on type of mask used, potential breathing difficulties.
• false sense of security, leading to potentially less adherence to other preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene.
• diversion of mask supplies and consequent shortage of mask for health care workers.
• diversion of resources from effective public health measures, such as hand hygiene.
Keep in mind: wearing a mask is just one way to help prevent respiratory tract infections. Most important is to observe good personal hygiene. Wash hands frequently with liquid soap. Always wash hands after sneezing, coughing, cleaning the nose; going to the toilet; and before touching the eyes, nose and mouth, or preparing food. You can also build up body immunity by developing a healthy lifestyle – eat well, get plenty of rest, exercise, don’t smoke.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, San Francisco Department of Public Health, Anne Arundel County Department of Health, Chester County Department of Health, Florida Department of Health.
I don’t mind wearing a mask in public for years if that’s what it takes. It’s polite to wear one if you are infectious and with this having so many asymptomatic cases, it should be the norm, for a long, long time, if people so choose.
Concerned Citizen says
One thing I would like to point out.
Many of you are still selfishly buying up and hoarding supplies. Even after you have been told there is no need to by officials. What this does is cause shortages in inventory. And prevents people like myself who are already broke and live paycheck to paycheck from being able to get the items that we need.
Many of us are only able to buy X amount each week and we have to make it last. So please think about that the next time you think you need 4 cases of 24 count toilet paper. Or like I saw recently 8 rolls of paper towels. And the person was bragging about making 2 trips that day. It’s not funny or humorous and it makes you an asshat and part of the problem.
If I sound frustrated I am. I have been to 5 different stores in the last 2 weeks hoping to get paper products. And everytime it’s sold out. I had to pay twice as much for a commercial roll online. And with all the retail stores in the area that’s just plain silly
Be a part of the solution. And not a problem.
Douglas E. Priest says
I call BS, I have a n95 mask. the doctors wear N95 masks, the nurses wear N95 masks if they are near the infected. Cut me a break…. Yes there is a shortage of N95 Masks. At least we are not pushing Conestoga Wagons over the great divide. Thank you Jesus! WE will get through this together!
Please remove your mask before robbing a bank or the local 7-11 store.