Everything You Need to Know About Face Masks During the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic
In February, the United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged Americans to stop buying medical masks, tweeting, "They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching [the novel] #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!" Initially, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) echoed these sentiments and stated that while standard surgical masks "help stop droplets from being spread by the person wearing them…they are not designed to protect against breathing in the very small particle aerosols that may contain viruses."
On April 1, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged locals to cover their faces in public. Shortly after, the CDC changed its official guidelines as well, stating that folks should use cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This complete U-turn from earlier advice may prove confusing to many Americans, especially those who believed they were doing the smart — and right — thing by foregoing masks: Not only did the CDC claim they weren’t that effective, but, in light of the limited supply of medical-grade masks, folks wanted to conserve said masks for healthcare workers and medical professionals. So, given the new measures, what should you do?
The Differences Between N95 Masks & Surgical Masks
The first step in helping out is to stay informed. If you panic-bought surgical masks or N95 masks months ago, now would be the perfect time to donate unopened products to your local hospital. And, if you’re still confused about the types of masks on offer, we’ll break it down for you real quick.
DIY Face Coverings: Tips & Tricks
According to Popular Science, researchers at the University of New South Wales who studied the use of reusable cloth masks discovered that "almost 97% of particles got through the cloth masks…compared with the 44% that penetrated synthetic medical masks." These moisture-retaining cloth masks are certainly far from perfect, which is why the World Health Organization (WHO) took such a strong stance against their use in January of 2020. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many experts, including those at the CDC, have concluded that for the general public some sort of face covering is better than no mask at all.