April 3rd brought more announcements from the CDC regarding the spread of COVID-19. Experts are now recommending everyone wear face masks when 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 cautioning, however, that the public should not purchase N95 or surgical masks, as hospitals and clinics are running dangerously low on materials. Rather, with the necessity of face masks so prevalent right now, make your own masks at home.
The Necessity of Face Masks
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 to keep a great enough supply for health care workers. Still, residents in many hard-hit areas such as New York City have been required to wear masks, as fear is increasing with the number of cases.
Pros and Cons of Homemade Face Masks
Often times, homemade masks are not made tight enough to keep the virus out. There is also a matter of the fabric being too thin and the weaving not tight enough, in which case the virus can seep 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, instead of grabbing the face cover itself. It is important to remember that masks only protect you from germs getting into your nose and mouth. The virus can infect you through the eyes just as easily. 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 have not come to a conclusion regarding whether or not 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 or 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.