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Face masks: myths and facts

So much information is swirling around the internet that it can sometimes be difficult to know what to believe. One thing is certain – the 2019 corona virus has affected our lives significantly. With a global pandemic that continues to take dear and dear to the world economy, we hear many contradictory ideas about face masks and their effectiveness. Here are some of the key misconceptions and some key information to remember.

Myth: People without symptoms do not need masks

Facts: Many people with COVID-19 have no symptoms and are still contagious.

Many places now require face masks in public. Before you decide to disregard this policy because you are not among the most vulnerable groups, consider how your actions may affect someone else.

You may never get seriously ill even if you have the new coronavirus. A person to whom you accidentally transmit the virus may not, either. But somewhere in the interaction line, a more vulnerable person can become extremely ill and can die. Wearing a mask reduces the risk of tragic accidents.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends that people wear face masks to help lay out the curve for the rate of infection, and U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, has created a video tutorial in support of wearing fabric masks.

Practicing social distancing, washing hands, not touching face and staying at home has helped slow down the spread, but at some point most people have to make a grocery or pharmacy run or complete another necessary case.

When you go out, you should wear a mask to protect others if you are ill and do not know it.

 mother puts hand cleanser on a young boy's hands

Myth: Fabric face masks do not work

Facts: Fabric masks help prevent us from spreading the virus.

While homemade fabric masks are not suitable for hospital workers who fight daily exposure to CO VID-19, they provide some protection to the public when people have to venture out for necessary activities.

The main way that fabric masks protect us is not by blocking transfer drops that come from other people, but by preventing the person from wearing a mask from transmitting these drops to people around them.

 home made fabric face masks

Myth: Masks Can Replace Social Distancing

Fact: Fabric face mask coatings are not a 100% solution.

Fabric masks do not form a seal on the face and they cannot prevent droplets from landing on other body parts. With a pandemic of this size, and not much experience to pull from, nothing can take the place of safe distance, proper hand washing and quarantine us as much as possible.

A face mask can lead to a false sense of security, so stay true to the current requirements of social distance (at least six feet between people, more if possible) and respect the health of others by protecting them from your own breath.

 two people waving at each other while social distance in face masks

Myth: All masks can be safely reused

Facts: Fabric masks can be washed and reused. Reusing N95 masks is more difficult.

Surgical masks are designed to be disposable. N95 masks are also ideal disposable, and in normal hospital operations, are disposed of after exposure to sick patients.

However, because they are defective, medical masks are reused in many hospitals, but probably with compromised integrity. Medical experts are working hard to safely clean up professional safety equipment for front-line healthcare professionals. At the moment, however, the only masks that can be reused with self-confident fabric masks.

Every mask that may be reused should be washed and cleaned properly after use to ensure that you do not contaminate the next time you touch it. Always practice the right technique when removing and handling masks. Experts recommend removing them from behind without touching the mask on the front, being careful not to touch your nose, eyes or mouth.

Always wash your hands immediately after removing a mask.

Myth: Fabric masks Provide the same protection as N95 masks

Facts: N95 masks fit tightly and filter 95% of the particles larger than 0.3 microns across.

 n95 face masks [19659005] Unlike fabric masks, N95 masks have an electrostatic barrier. When these masks sit close to the face they protect, they block almost all microscopic particles from passing through. Surgical masks do not stick to the face and provide protection mainly from large drops, sprays of body fluids and splashes.

Fabric masks are not sufficiently dense to protect a carrier from microscopic drops, although the denser the material, the better protection they can offer.

Myth: Babies and Should Wear Masks

Facts: Masks can be dangerous for very young or incapable people.

The United States CDC recommends not placing a mask under a child under two years old. Also, you should not put a mask on someone who cannot remove the mask on your own.

The Bottom Line

We don't yet know how normal this pandemic will look like, or how long it will take before we can return to mask-free public interaction without risking death and dangerous burden on our health care institutions.

Most challenging of all, we do not know how long it will be until we have reliable treatment, antibody tests and vaccines. While our researchers and health workers are making progress toward these important goals, let's all work together to keep as many people safe and healthy as we possibly can.

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