Wearing Masks – During the COVID-19 pandemic

Reminding people that “masks save lives” isn’t just good advice, It’s a proven scientific fact. Wearing mask in public can help to slow the spread of COVID- 19.

By now we all know that this disease spreads at a rapid pace, wearing masks can slow the spread down by reducing the rate of cross–contamination.

When a person who is infected coughs, sneezes or does anything to release germs into the air which can infect others who are nearby. Wearing mask can protect you as the wearer from contracting any airborne germs.

We all know that masks can be uncomfortable, overwhelming and annoying. We also know that some people don’t like to feel forced to do anything, especially if it’s the government telling us to do so, but it has been scientifically proven that wearing masks can significantly curb the spread.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 50% of transmission happens before people develop any COVID-19 symptoms.

However, the CDC, a completely non-partisan health organisation, recommends “people wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”

Here some points to take into consideration:

So how does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is spread via wet, large water droplets  which carry the virus. They are expelled via an infected person through things like coughing and sneezing.  Should you be within 6 feet of someone, these contaminated droplets can land on your eyes, mouth and nose and can infect you as well, hence the social distancing measures.

How do masks help stop the spread of the virus?

If you are infected with COVID-19, masks largely block the droplets from coming into contact with others and potentially infecting them. Also, as a wearing mask you are offering yourself some protection as the amount of virus you are exposed to determine how severe your illness may be as fewer droplets will get through your own mask.

There are several strands of evidence supporting the efficacy of masks.

A study published in Health Affairs, for example, compared the COVID-19 growth rate before and after mask mandates in 15 states and the District of Columbia. It found that mask mandates led to a slowdown in daily COVID-19 growth rate, which became more apparent over time. The first five days after a mandate, the daily growth rate slowed by 0.9 percentage-points compared to the five days prior to the mandate; at three weeks, the daily growth rate had slowed by 2 percentage-points.

With all this being said, why weren’t face masks recommended at the beginning?

At the beginning, experts did not know how quickly this virus would spread and how people could be infecting others without showing any symptoms. It wasn’t known that people could have COVID-19 and not show any symptoms and that this virus can be unknowingly spread.

As these discoveries were found, it led public health groups to do research on face masks and their effects. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now include face masks in their recommendations for slowing the spread of the virus. The CDC recommends cloth face masks for the public and not the surgical and N95 masks needed by health care providers

How should face mask be worn?

The mask should securely cover your face from the bridge of your nose to underneath your chin. It should be comfortable but create a secure cover over your nose and mouth to lessen the risk of droplets being transmitted through these areas.

Best to reduce the need to touch or adjust your mask as this may lessen the effectiveness.

  1. Make sure hands are clean and washed with soap and water before touching the mask.
  2. After removing mask from the box, check for holes or tears and discard if found.
  3. Ensure you check which side is to and bottom, front and back to ensure maximum effectiveness.
  4. Pull the mask over your mouth and chin ensuring full and secure coverage of these areas.
  5. Repeat step 1 to take of your mask

What are the best types of masks?

Not all masks are created equal! Accord CDC to help stop the spread of COVID-19 outside of healthcare settings.

First to talk about N95 respirators, these are only necessary in medical situations such as intubation and healthcare workers and are subject to availability, so best we keep them for the previous reasons. Then we have surgical masks which are generally more protective than cloth masks, and some people say that they are lighter and more comfortable to wear, if you do wear a fabric masks it’s an idea to choose one with multiple layers for more protection.

The goal is to protect ourselves as much as possible and masks that are tighter to the face are a good choice because there are no gaps for the virus to escape or enter. The masks that have a mouldable bridge mount are great as it can be shaped to offer a closer fit and also stops the annoying glasses fog.

So, what about face covering like a scarf or bandana? A fitted face mask simply provides better protection and as movement increases and restrictions ease its more important to ensure the effectiveness of a face mask.

There are many different types of face masks, let’s take a look:

Keep in mind, all face masks must fit snug against the face and cover both the nose and mouth in order to be effective.

– Fabric or Paper Masks

Cloth masks have been used in healthcare and community settings to protect the person wearing from respiratory infections. Multilayer cloth masks, designed to fit around the face and made of thick, densely woven cottons are good materials for fabric masks.

You can easily make your own mask at home with or without a sewing machine using a wide variety of fabrics.

– Procedural and Surgical Masks

Loose-fitting masks that are designed to cover the mouth and nose and protect against large respiratory droplets. They are helpful for preventing the wearer from spreading droplets to others. Once time use only – not washable

Masks are used by health care workers whose safety depends on an adequate supply like N95 respirators.

– Professional Respirators (N95)

Named N95 respirators, these medical masks help prevent exposure to tiny droplets that can be suspended in the air. They are specifically fit to the healthcare worker to ensure right size, model and make ensuring a tight seal.

Please note that N95 respirators should be reserved for health care providers and first responders.

– Face Shield

Covering the face from the top of the head to below the chin a face shield is a sheet of plastic attached to a headband like object. Before the pandemic, face shields were worn by health care workers to protect during procedures that create body fluid splatter (like dental hygienists).

They do not provide the same protection as a mask because droplets can come up underneath the shield, there is not full coverage of the nose and mouth.

– Face Mask Filters

Some masks you will see come with a space for a filter, the only masks that include professional filters that are effective are respirators (N95) but again please note that these should be reserved for health care workers.  Rather than worry about insertable mask filters, better to focus on a mask made with multiple layers of fabric, something that covers your mouth and nose and fits securely to your face.

With all that being said, physical distancing is the most effective way to reduce spreading – even when we are wearing mask. Understanding how the virus spreads and how we can reduce the risks is imperative to keep our loved ones and community safe.

wind rose co. want to help focus on prevention and creating a plan  where we can help keep business and the public safe! Contact us to organise a consultation where we can tailor a reliable, cost effective package to suit your specific needs.

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