Over the past month or two, public health officials have been unyielding in their stance that healthy people must not wear Masks For COVID-19 in an effort to try to avoid coronavirus.
However with new information about the way the virus is spread – potentially from the air and by people who have no symptoms – the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday recommended which everybody wear nonmedical face coverings in public settings. President Trump said the rules were voluntary, leaving the choice about wearing masks as much as individuals. Top health officials, including Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, warned that masks should not replace social distancing and hand washing.
While longtime advocates for mask wearing applaud the shift, they said it should also add a plan for providing masks towards the public. Right now, commercially made masks are virtually impossible to locate. Many people have hoarded masks recently, and everyone agrees that any available flow of medical masks needs to be restricted to hospitals and emergency workers. That means if you need a mask, you almost certainly must make it yourself.
“We have a $3 trillion stimulus package as well as a mask costs very little – they must be free,” said Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University.
How to Make a Face Mask. Last week, the German Medical Association suggested that citizens find or produce a simple fabric mask when in public and leave medical-grade masks for front-line workers. In Austria, food store shoppers are necessary to wear masks. In New York City, officials advised residents to shield their faces having a scarf, bandanna or some other covering when leaving their houses.
“Cover your skin with cloth – however you wish to do that,” said Shan Soe-Lin, a lecturer in the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs who was a co-author of a widely shared article about the need to cover your face. “Cover your face pretty thoroughly from the mouth in your nose to prevent large aerosol droplets popping out or going in.”
Dr. Soe-Lin said she didn’t understand why public health officials happen to be so hesitant to recommend nonmedical fabric masks for that public. Even if they aren’t as protective as N95 For Sale, they are superior to nothing, she said.
“We have been in the upswing of the pandemic,” Dr. Soe-Lin said. “These cloth masks are protective. It’s an extremely important complement for the social-distance and hand-washing instructions.”
Experts say it’s important for people to realize that a basic face covering offers enough protection for a person that is practicing social distancing and it has only limited contact with others during brief time outside for exercise or groceries.
The highest-quality, most expensive medical masks – called N95 respirator masks – needs to be restricted to hospital workers and emergency responders that are regularly exposed to high viral loads from infected patients, both from frequent contact as well as surgical procedure that can spew tiny viral particles into air.
“The possibility of exposure is so much lower in a grocery store when compared with working in a hospital close to patients,” said Linsey Marr, a Virginia Tech scientist and an expert in the transmission of viruses inside the air.
If you’re not a medical care worker and you will have a stash of N95 masks or standard surgical masks, consider donating it to some hospital.
If you’re staying home and nobody within your family members are infected, you don’t need to have a mask more often than not. Studies of mask use to avoid the spread of respiratory illnesses, including SARS, another kind of coronavirus, show an easy mask can lower probability of infection. The impact is greatest when masks are used together with hand hygiene and social distancing.
“I think the large number of web data would claim that the coronavirus is definitely an airborne infection carried by respiratory droplets, and in addition it can be passed on by direct contact,” said Dr. Mukherjee, who recently wrote a write-up regarding how the coronavirus behaves inside patients. “The mask works two ways – not just in protect you against me, but me from you.”
If you opt to start wearing a mask, you should know that it takes some getting used to. A mask can be hot and uncomfortable and fog your glasses if you use them. But pulling it up and down defeats the goal of using it.
Basically we don’t have lots of research on the effectiveness of homemade masks in preventing the spread of infection, scientists who study airborne diseases can offer some guidance. A mask sewn coming from a pattern or an improvised face covering created using a T-shirt probably offers some protection. The thicker the material, the greater: think heavy cotton T-shirt or perhaps a thick, felt-like fabric, said Dr. Marr, the Virginia Tech aerosol scientist.
While many folks have suggested using a bandanna, the fabric is usually so thin and flimsy it would likely offer little protection. Double or triple the bandanna fabric if that’s the only thing you have.
“I’ve been saying some protection is better than none,” said Dr. Marr, who noted that local health departments have been asking aerosol scientists for help with potential mask materials to handle supply shortages. She said her team might have results soon with additional specific recommendations for materials to use in masks.
Dr. Soe-Lin said she believed an additional advantage of a mask was it works as a constant reminder against touching your face, a significant way that the virus is spread. But no face covering, whether it’s homemade or a medical mask, makes you invincible. Pulling a mask on / off or fidgeting along with it will lessen its effectiveness. As well as in theory, fiddling along with your mask could contaminate it. Always remove a mask through the ear loops or the tie – never the part that covers the face.
Dr. Soe-Lin said she had used Mask For Coronavirus for 3 weeks and washed and dried them regularly. Someone with only one mask can hand wash during the night and let it air dry. In case a mask gets wet or damp when you are wearing it, it’s less efficient, she said.
Other experts said worries that fabric masks won’t offer enough protection were misguided.
“I don’t think there is any evidence that this will make things worse, however, there is evidence it provides some additional good,” said Robert Hecht, professor in the Yale School of Public Health, who has been tcxbmh co-author of the face mask article with Dr. Soe-Lin. “Under this emergency situation we’re in, it seems, in our view, hard to argue against covering your skin. We have many infections occurring which don’t need to happen if people were to utilize the masks.”