Face Masks in Public

coronavirus vs flu

April 3rd brought more announcements from the CDC regarding the spread of COVID-19. Experts are now recommending everyone wear face masks when they feel they must go out in public. Places such as grocery stores and pharmacies will be the most vulnerable and you should keep your trips short and infrequent. The new precaution comes after the CDC warned that many people with the virus will never exhibit symptoms and could be spreading it unknowingly. Experts are advising, however, that the public should not purchase N95 or surgical masks, as hospitals and clinics are running dangerously low on materials. Rather, make your own masks at home.

Face Masks in Public

The recommendation is optional, but more people are covering up their nose and mouth with the recent announcement. Experts have agreed that wearing a mask is not likely to keep you from getting the virus, but it can prevent those with the disease from spreading it. The CDC does want people to understand that the face masks should not give you a false sense of safety. They should be used when it is absolutely necessary that you leave your home (i.e. the grocery store, pharmacy). Dr. Deborah Birx urged the public to remain aware that wearing a face mask does not replace the need to wash your hands regularly and maintain a safe distance from others. Statements from officials originally downplayed the need for a mask, mainly so that health care workers wouldn’t have trouble accessing them as needed. Still, residents in many hard-hit areas such as New York City are required to wear masks, as fear is mounting along with the number of cases.

Are Homemade Masks Safe?

Often times, homemade masks are not made tight enough to keep the virus out. Further, if the fabric is thin and the weaving not tight enough, the virus will be able to get right through the material. However, homemade fabric masks are better than no mask at all. But doctors warn you should be careful when taking the mask off, as you could be getting the virus all over your hands. Be sure to take the mask off from behind the ears, not by grabbing the face cover itself. It is important to note, though, that masks only protect you from germs getting into your nose and mouth. The eyes are another way the virus infects you. Aerovirologist John Lednicky warns, “there’s some protection from eyeglasses, but there’s a lot of space around eyeglasses, so air currents can still hit your eyes.” Researchers are still debating whether airborne particles from talking or breathing are enough to actually transmit the virus to another person. But in the meantime, it is still important to keep your distance from others as a cough and a sneeze can definitely infect another person. The CDC and other experts insist that, with the uncertainty surrounding the virus, masks and maintaining a 6-foot zone of personal space, are still great ways to ensure you are not spreading the virus.

Stop the Spread of the Coronavirus!

As always, stay in your homes as much as possible. Wash your hands and disinfect surfaces in your home and cars regularly. If you are still going to the office each day, sanitize your hands regularly throughout your shift and keep your workspace clean. If you feel sick, do NOT go to work, for your sake as well as those around you. Maintain a safe distance from people in public at all times, but most importantly: maintain your health! Reach out to your doctor by phone before going into a clinic or hospital. If you are wondering about the safety of taking a walk or jog around your neighborhood, experts suggest it is unlikely that you are passing through a mist that is carrying the virus even when you quickly pass someone. Distance is best, but there is no need to worry about exercising throughout your neighborhood.

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