While lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures have been lifted throughout much of the United States, the threat posed by COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, in many parts of the country, it is getting worse.
Over the last week, we’ve seen several states continue to set new records for the number of new cases reported within a 24 hour period. While the increased case numbers can be partly attributed to more widespread testing, this doesn’t tell the whole story. For example, Arizona has seen the percentage of positive COVID-19 test results more than double, while hospital capacity has increased at an alarming rate.
So what can you do as we try to balance going back to work and running errands with an ever-increasing outbreak? It probably shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise that most health experts are recommending that we continue the same practices from when the pandemic began: social distancing whenever possible, washing hands often, and wearing masks.
Here’s another look at why masks are so important at stopping the spread of COVID-19, and why you should wear one when out and about.
How Do Masks Help Fight COVID-19?
From the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding face masks, their effectiveness, and why we should wear them. What is important to keep in mind, however, is that while there is still a lot we don’t know about the coronavirus, we know a lot more know than we did several months ago. This is especially true in regards to masks.
As Larry Chu, MD explained in a recent interview with the Stanford Medicine News Center, “We’ve learned that as many as 40 percent of people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 may have no symptoms. But when they talk, cough or sneeze, they can still spread the virus to others in the form of respiratory droplets expelled into the air. Those droplets evaporate into fine particles that may linger. The mask traps these larger droplets before they can evaporate. So, wearing a mask regularly can prevent spreading at the source even when we don’t know we are sick.”
A big reason for wearing a face mask is that many of the droplets from our normal breathing will be trapped in place, rather than circulating through the surrounding air. In the same interview, Amy Price, PhD, noted that wearing a mask can reduce the distance viral particles travel from 30 feet to 5 feet.
In other words, when you wear a mask, you make it much less likely that you will spread COVID-19 to others, regardless of whether you have symptoms or not.
When Should You Wear Your Mask?
While you don’t need to wear your mask while staying at home or driving alone in your car, the growing consensus is that you should wear a face mask anytime you are in public. In fact, many states and cities have issued mandates requiring this, and several businesses are denying entry to individuals without some sort of face covering.
The basic fact of the matter is that anytime you are going to potentially be in close contact with other people who aren’t from your household, you should be wearing a mask. Riding on public transportation, making your weekly trip to the grocery store, attending a public gathering — you should wear a face mask for each of these situations.
Wearing a face mask isn’t about being afraid that you are going to catch the virus. It is about showing a willingness to make a small sacrifice to protect the well-being of others around you. Even if you aren’t in an at-risk group, your efforts to wear a mask could keep others from getting infected.
Proper Mask Use
N95 masks and surgical respirator masks are generally designed for single use. While they will be effective if they are fitted snugly against your face, they should not be re-used. They aren’t washable like cloth masks, and touching the surface of the mask could bring you in contact with the virus you are trying to avoid.
When you finish your business in public, remove the mask by grabbing the ear loops — not the surface of the mask itself. Place the soiled mask in a plastic garbage bag and tie it shut.
You should also remember that wearing a mask doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about other COVID-19 precautions. To avoid getting sick or spreading the virus to others, you should still try to maintain social distancing when in public. Wash your hands after getting home, and carry hand sanitizer with you when you go out. Avoid touching your face and wipe down frequently touched surfaces often.
Protecting Yourself And Others During COVID-19
The tense situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic is stressful for many, but especially so for people already dealing with respiratory disorders or other health conditions that put them at higher risk.
At No Insurance Medical Supplies, we are committed to helping you maintain your supply of CPAP equipment, N95 masks, and other related supplies you might need during this time. Discount pricing and fast shipping ensure that you won’t have to wait to get the items you need.
The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. But by wearing masks in public, we can all do our part to help slow the spread and protect those around us.