Wearing a mask has turned into an incredibly controversial subject. Some people are willing to wear the mask, while others refuse. The coronavirus pandemic has continued for months now and is showing no sign of stopping yet. It likely will not stop until a vaccine is widely available and used by the majority of people around the world. In the meantime, one of the ways for people to stay safe and help others stay safe is to wear a mask. Read below to learn more about what wearing a mask does as well as to learn how to wear it and to get answers to questions you might have about the use of masks.
It Does Help Slow the Spread
Of course, masks aren’t 100% effective, and they won’t completely stop the spread of the coronavirus. Yet, masks are great at helping to slow the spread. Some people believe that masks are not effective at all, but that is one of the biggest COVID-19 myths going around right now. Masks help stop the spread of the droplets when someone talks, coughs, or sneezes. These droplets are what contain the virus, so if they get caught in the mask, they don’t end up in the air. If they don’t end up in the air, others who are nearby won’t get sick. Masks are not fully effective, but they do help quite a bit. If everyone wore a mask, whether or not they have a positive COVID test result, it could help slow the spread significantly, ending the pandemic and allowing life to get a little closer to normal.
Everyone Should Wear a Mask
Masks are more effective if everyone is wearing them, even those who feel healthy and have not had a positive coronavirus test result. The only ones who should not wear a mask are those who have breathing issues, like those who require oxygen, children under two years of age, and anyone else who is not able to take the mask off on their own, including those who are physically disabled. These guidelines are from the CDC, which states that everyone should be wearing a mask in public settings, especially if social distancing cannot be done. Anyone who is not restricted from wearing a mask based on these guidelines should use one whenever they are out in public, even if they are outside.
Why Should Healthy Individuals Wear a Mask?
The majority of people who get the flu have some symptoms. Those who have a cold likely have symptoms. This makes it easy to know when to avoid contact with others to stop from spreading the illness. COVID-19, however, is different. Many of those who are positive don’t know it because they don’t have any symptoms at all. Even if someone does develop symptoms, they may have had the virus for a while before the symptoms appeared. Since coronavirus can spread by talking, coughing, or sneezing, even someone who feels healthy may have it and may be spreading it. Someone around dust, for instance, might sneeze, spreading coronavirus to others even though they don’t have any symptoms and don’t feel sick at all.
When a Mask Can’t be Worn, Avoid Going Out
Those who cannot wear a mask should avoid going out unless necessary. It is possible to have most items, including groceries, clothes, electronics, toiletries, and other supplies, delivered, often with same-day or next-day delivery. Food can be ordered as well, so it’s still possible to enjoy a delicious dinner without cooking or leaving the house. While it is tough to simply stay at home, by minimizing the time out of the house, those who cannot wear a mask are able to minimize their chance of getting the virus and of spreading it to others if they do get it. One exception to this is to get exercise, as this can be done by walking around outside without being around a lot of other people.
What Kind of Mask to Wear
Many different types of masks are easily available for purchase today. N-95 masks are the best at helping to avoid the spread of the disease, but they are still difficult to come by for most people. The good news is, regular masks can help avoid the spread, too. They may not be as effective, but they are still effective and can be easily obtained by anyone. Other mask options to consider include homemade masks that are made from at least two layers of fabric, disposable surgical masks, and bandanas. As long as the material is thick enough to stop droplets from getting into the air, but still easy to breathe through, the mask will work.
How to Wear a Mask
The way to wear the mask will depend on the type of mask. Most masks have elastic that is intended to go behind both ears. Others tie, allowing more customized adjustments to be made. It is recommended to learn how to use the mask before wearing it for the first time and to ensure the mask fits properly. All masks should fit snugly over the mouth and nose, with no gaps that could allow air in or out. Many masks will have a nose piece that can be adjusted for maximum comfort and to ensure the mask fits properly. Those who are unsure how to wear the mask properly or ensure it fits correctly can watch the videos created by WHO to learn more.
Social Distancing Still Needed
Even with a mask on, social distancing is still needed and recommended. Even though the mask does help stop droplets from spreading, they aren’t fully effective and cannot stop all droplets. On top of this, someone who is wearing a mask incorrectly will still be able to spread the virus, because the mask is rendered completely ineffective if their nose or mouth is not in the mask. The virus can also spread if someone has touched their face and then touches another surface or someone else, so staying at least six feet apart from others does help reduce the spread along with the mask usage.
How Long Will Masks be Needed?
The answer to this is unknown. Masks are a great way to help slow the spread of coronavirus, but they will be needed as long as the virus is still impacting people. Many experts believe that masks will not be needed once the numbers go down significantly; however, this may not occur until there is a vaccine. Even if the mask mandate is no longer in effect for a city, it does not hurt to continue using the mask when in public until such time that the community has not had a new case in at least a couple of weeks. If new cases do appear, mask usage may need to begin once more until it is deemed safe to stop using them again.
Are Masks Needed Outdoors?
The answer to this is a little more complicated than other questions. The virus does spread more readily indoors because of how close people are and the recirculation of air inside most buildings. However, it is still possible for the virus to spread outdoors. The basic rule of thumb for outdoor use is to wear the mask if social distancing isn’t possible. When someone is in close contact with others, such as shopping at an outdoor market, wearing a mask is recommended. If someone is outside riding a bike, walking or running, or in their own yard, they do not need to wear a mask as long as they are not in close contact with anyone else. When in doubt, it’s better to wear the mask and not need it than to avoid wearing it and end up getting sick or unknowingly spreading the virus.
Can Businesses Refuse Customers Without a Mask?
There has been some concern over whether a business can refuse to serve someone who is not wearing a mask. The vast majority of businesses are privately owned, so they are able to make their own rules for who can enter and purchase something from their shop, so long as it doesn’t go against anti-discrimination laws. Businesses have the right to only allow those who are wearing purple in their building if they want. The same applies to masks. If a business wants to deny entry to someone who isn’t wearing a mask, that is well within their rights to do. Today, many businesses are starting to require a mask for entry into a store to help protect their customers and reduce the spread of the virus.
Wearing a mask is something that is highly controversial today, but it shouldn’t be. Wearing a mask isn’t 100% effective, but it is still very effective and able to help slow the spread of coronavirus, especially if everyone wears a mask. Once enough people are wearing the mask and taking the proper precautions when they’re shopping, visiting with others, or doing anything else outside of the home, the spread of the virus should slow significantly. Then, life can start to get back to normal once again.