With COVID-19 cases on the rise, and people quarantining again, it’s important to keep in mind what you can do to help prevent the spread and keep people safe. Some of the ongoing recommendations include staying six feet away from others, washing your hands frequently, and most importantly, wearing a mask! Now that we are eight months into the pandemic and have more knowledge and first hand experiences with different face covering techniques, it is clear that some are better than others. Here are a few masks that the general population have been wearing.
Now that everyone has started to make and sell masks, it has become even easier to find the perfect mask for each person. With masks in all different styles, sizes, and colors, it is nearly impossible to find one that doesn’t work for you. Although cloth masks might be more expensive to buy than disposable masks, in the end they are worth it. Reusable masks are a better option for the environment and allow you to reuse them multiple times without throwing anything away. Seeing as cloth masks are made of a good, strong material, and not a single use plastic, you won’t have to worry about it ending up in the middle of the ocean. In addition to the environmental, style and comfort factors, buying reusable masks is a great way to support small and local businesses.
Disposable masks are a fan favorite, and a top choice for many. Surgical masks are a single use product, meaning they get thrown away at the end of the day. Make sure you cut the straps after your day out so they don’t end up injuring any animals. For people who are bored of the basic baby blue, some companies are now offering cool designs and colors. These masks are easy to adjust to fit people’s faces by simply making small knots at the end of the ear loops to change the overall fit. With the virus not going anywhere, it’s best if we stock up on masks. Surgical masks offer an easy and affordable option seeing as typically they come in packs of 50-100, making the cost of one mask less than one dollar. With simply a click of a button, hundreds will pop up on Amazon. In addition to being sold online, they are offered for free at the entry of some stores and restaurants.
The level of protection that the N95 mask offers is unlike any other mask. Health care providers and first responders are highly encouraged to wear N95 masks due to scientific research that shows the level of protection. These masks are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are proven to give 95% protection against airborne particles, bacteria, viruses, bodily fluids, etc. This dome-like mask fits snugly around your mouth and nose, making it almost impossible to let anything in. It extends out to give you plenty of breathing space as well. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) says that you are able to reuse this mask up to 5 times before throwing it away. One thing to keep in mind is that these are in short supply and healthcare providers need them the most right now. That being said, if you already have them wear them, but I wouldn’t recommend going to go buy any at the moment. Overall, N95 masks are perfect for those who have to interact with many people over the course of the day, as well as those who have to wear them for long periods of time due to the capability to breathe easily.
Plastic Face Shield
A face shield is a clear piece of plastic that covers your whole face and has an opening at the bottom with a strap to put around your head. A face shield is a great option as long as you are wearing a mask underneath it. Wearing a face shield with no mask offers you no protection from the virus according to the CDC. They don’t recommend wearing face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings. Although many believe that it is not necessary to wear a mask as long as they have this on, due to the opening at the bottom, that simply is not true. In my opinion, this type of mask freaks me out and I feel as if it doesn’t do anything as far as managing the spread of COVID.
Although bandannas are easy to grab in a hurry and are easy to pull up over your nose as necessary, it has been proven that they may not be sufficient protection, for yourself and others, against the virus. Duke University conducted a research experiment and found that bandanas and neck gaiters are among the worst choices for face coverings when it comes to blocking fluid droplets and airborne diseases. With all of that being said, it is best if you leave your bandanas at home and go for a safer, more efficient face mask.
If you care about those around you, I would recommend buying a mask. Research has shown that those who choose not to wear a mask are prone to contracting and spreading the virus. This far into the pandemic there are very few excuses for not wearing a mask. Everywhere you go, mask wearing is enforced along with other safety regulations. Now that we have eight months of experience, and sadly many more to come, we know that mask-wearing is a simple but necessary step to protecting ourselves and others. COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. If you want to stop spreading this deadly virus and protect those you care about, go to the store and pick up a mask.