In December of 2019, the Coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China. Today, the virus has touched almost every part of the globe, infecting millions of people and taking hundreds of thousands of lives. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization have made several recommendations of precautions to take to avoid contracting COVID-19, and have specifically stressed the importance of wearing a face covering to slow the spread of the disease. Despite the fact that in some states, wearing a mask is technically not required, there is plenty of evidence proving the effectiveness of wearing a mask when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. Although it’s clear that masks for COVID-19 are a must, there are many different types of masks, and the large selection can be overwhelming. Here is what you need to know regarding masks and face coverings and the important role they play in the global fight against the Coronavirus.
Should I Wear a Mask for Coronavirus Protection?
When in a public place where you are within 6 feet of people who are not members of your household, you should wear a face covering to protect yourself from contracting or spreading Coronavirus. It has been scientifically proven that wearing a mask can significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19. According to the CDC, the only people who should not wear a mask are children under 2 years old, anyone with respiratory issues where it would impede their breathing, anyone unable to remove the mask without help, and anyone with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that does not allow them to wear a mask.
How to Properly Wear a Face Mask
It is very important that masks are worn correctly in order to best protect ourselves and others from Coronavirus. According to the CDC, you should first wash your hands before putting on a mask. Next, put it over your nose and mouth and secure It under your chin. The mask should fit snuggly against the sides of your face, but you should still be able to breath easily. Do not put the mask around your neck or up on your forehead, and if you touch the mask, be sure to wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to disinfect. Children should wear child sized masks to ensure that they fit properly. Healthcare workers who wear N95 Masks must pass a fit test to ensure that their mask is the correct make, model, and size.
Ranking the Best Face Masks
4. Reusable Mask
Reusable Masks vary in protection quality based on material. Typical cotton and polyester reusable masks do not provide ample protection against COVID-19. Reusable masks should be constructed using a more protective fabric such as polyethylene, polypropylene, or another more tightly compacted fabric that does not allow particles to pass through. It is also possible to put a filter on reusable masks for further protection. Reusable masks must be washed regularly, and the CDC suggests including your reusable mask in your regular load of laundry and washing with detergent and the warmest water that the load allows. If you don’t have a washing machine, you can wash your reusable mask by hand using some bleach products, ensuring that you always read and follow the directions on product labels and you allow your mask to dry completely before using it again. If using bleach to clean your reusable mask, follow CDC guidelines while doing so to ensure optimal safety.
3. Civil Masks
There are 3 types of civil masks: ply level 1, ply level 2, and ply level 3. The ply level is the level of barrier that the masks possess, with level 1 having the least amount of protection, and level 3 having the most protection. These masks work against liquids, and the levels are based on the fabrics and how many microbes will be filtered throughout the fabric. These masks are not reusable and are intended to be disposed of after a single use.
2. Ear Loop Form Fitting Respirator (FFR): NIOSH, KN95
An Ear Loop FFR Respirator is a very effective face covering when it comes to protection against the Coronavirus. This type of mask is available in both KN95 and N95, however, the CDC states that N95 respirators are not needed and should not be used outside of healthcare settings, as this type of respirator should be used only by healthcare personnel who need protection from both airborne particles and fluid hazards. An Ear Loop FFR forms an extremely close seal on your face, meaning that while wearing it, you are less likely to have particles enter through the sides of the respirator. The ear loops provide a custom, snug fit, making this mask ideal for any face shape.
1. Head Strap Form Fitting Respirator (FFR): NIOSH, KN95
Finally, the most protective face covering is a Head Strap FFR Respirator, also available in both KN95 and N95. Similar to the Ear Loop FFR, this mask forms an extremely close seal on your face, making you less likely to have particles enter through the side of the respirator. The head strap, however, allows for an even more custom, snug fit than the Ear Loop FFR, and therefore is also ideal for any face shape and is the most effective face covering against the Coronavirus.
Wearing a mask is extremely important, as it is an easy yet effective way that we can slow the spread of COVID-19. In order for this to be effective, however, we must wear the correct mask in the correct way, and we must understand the type of protection provided by each type of face covering. In addition to wearing a mask, the CDC recommends several other methods to protect yourself and others from the Coronavirus. If you do not find the above information helpful, or you have further questions or concerns regarding masks, talk with a medical professional about how to keep yourself and others safe throughout the pandemic.