Face masks continue to be an important tool to curb the spread of COVID-19, and using them in public settings when you’re around other people cannot be stressed enough. The New York Times recently published a terrific article that graphically shows how masks work, and new research has prompted the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to update its guidance on face masks. By sharing this information, Mister Kleen hopes to spread awareness among our employees and partners.
EFFECTIVENESS OF FACE MASKS
According to the CDC’s recently updated site, Considerations for Wearing Masks, recent studies have shown that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. Because of their effectiveness as a simple barrier, masks can help prevent people who have COVID-19 , including those who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, from spreading the virus to others.
Using masks along with social distancing is the most effective strategy for reducing COVID-19 transmission. Other preventative measures include frequent hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, according to the CDC.
If you are infected or think you might have been exposed to COVID-19, you should stay home, except to get medical care. While quarantining in your home, you should wear a mask when you’re around other people or animals. It’s not known at this time how well the mask protects healthy people from becoming infected, but the CDC says caregivers may also wear a mask. Caregivers should also avoid close contact with the sick person when possible, clean their hands often, avoid touching their face, and frequently clean and disinfect surfaces.
MASKS AND SHIELDS
Masks with exhalation valves or vents are not recommended. These types of masks can allow air to be exhaled and may not prevent the person wearing the mask from infecting others.
Face shields are not recommended as substitutes for masks. Primarily used as eye protection, face shields are not shown at this time to be effective barriers from respiratory droplets reaching you. Masks are not always feasible for everyone, such as people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or those who care for someone who is hearing impaired
The CDC offers some considerations, for those who choose a face shield over a mask:
- Hooded face shields and those that wrap around your face and below your chin may be better at preventing the spread of infection, according to current data.
- Wearers should use the same safe practices: wash hands before and after removing a face shield, and avoiding touching your face when removing it.
- Disposable face shields should be used only once.
- Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use. Check manufacturer instruction or follow CDC instructions on cleaning face shields.
WEAR MASKS PROPERLY
Wearing face masks correctly and consistently offers the best protection against becoming ill. You should wash your hands before putting a mask, and after you take it off. You should not be touching your mask while wearing it, and make sure it fits snugly against your face, covering your nose, mouth, and chin.
STORING AND CLEANING MASKS
The CDC suggests having more than one mask so that you can readily replace a dirty mask with a clean one. When removing your mask, handle only by the ear loops or ties, and fold the outside corners together.
If your mask is wet or dirty, keep it in a sealed plastic bag and wash as soon as possible. If your mask is not wet or dirty, you can store it in a dry, breathable bag such as a paper or mesh bag.
The CDC recommends washing your cloth mask whenever it gets dirty or at least daily. Disposable masks should be thrown away after using it once.
You can clean your mask by throwing into your usual laundry, using regular detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the fabric. Or you can wash it by hand with tap water and regular detergent or soap, making sure to rinse thoroughly.
To dry your mask, you can place it in the dryer on warm or hot, or air dry by hanging it in direct sunlight if possible.