Wearing a mask to protect against coronavirus has become part of our daily lives, especially now that Governor Kay Ivey has issued a mask mandate for the state of Alabama.
Though wearing a mask is one of the most important things you can do to prevent the spread of coronavirus, there are still many misunderstandings about:
How safe and effective masks are
How to use them properly
When and where masks are needed
Discover the facts behind the myths about masks, and be sure to take this information to heart to protect yourself and others from this virus.
Mask Safety and Effectiveness
Myth: Cloth masks don’t protect you.
Fact: Cloth face masks are highly effective. They create a barrier between your mouth and nose and those around you. This makes it more difficult for the droplets that spread coronavirus through coughs, sneezes and talking to reach other people.
Cloth masks mainly keep you from unknowingly spreading the disease to others, but some studies indicate that they may help protect you from large droplets and serve as an indirect reminder to avoid touching your face.
This is why wearing a cloth mask inside all retail stores and public transportation has been mandatory in Alabama. And as more services such as getting a haircut or dining in a restaurant are being allowed, it is as important as ever to continue wearing a mask to protect the people we love most.
Myth: Other masks are more effective than cloth masks.
Fact: Different types of masks serve different purposes, but cloth masks are highly effective for the general public. The average person who is not working in a medical environment with COVID-19 patients should wear a cloth mask to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers who need them most.
Myth: Masks can cause carbon dioxide (CO2) build-up.
Fact: Some people have suggested that carbon dioxide from exhaling gets trapped under the cloth and can make you sick. This isn’t true in the slightest. Properly fitted masks offer adequate airflow while still covering your nose and mouth. This makes the accumulation of carbon dioxide impossible.
However, people with breathing problems, children under age 2, and those who can’t remove the mask without assistance should not wear one.
How to Wear Masks
Myth: The way you wear a mask is not important.
Fact: Wearing a mask correctly is the key to making it effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a cloth face mask needs to have the following in order to be effective:
Cover both your nose and mouth
Fit snugly but comfortably against the sides of the face
Be secured with ties or ear loops
Have multiple layers of fabric
Allow for unrestricted breathing
Able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or shape changes
Where and When to Wear a Mask
Myth: You only need to wear a mask if you feel sick.
Fact: According to the CDC, studies suggest that many people who have coronavirus are asymptomatic, meaning they show no symptoms. You may have the disease and unknowingly spread it to others, including those with underlying medical conditions that are more vulnerable to severe illness and potential hospitalization. Asymptomatic carriers can increase the disease’s spread if they aren’t taking proper precautions, including wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, and properly social distancing.
Myth: If you’re home, you don’t need to wear a mask.
Fact: In most cases, this is true. However, if you do feel sick, have mild symptoms, and live with others, it’s important to wear a mask to protect them.
It is very important to not leave your home when feeling ill. Make every effort to isolate yourself from healthy people you live with, and try and avoid sharing bathrooms with healthy people. Be sure to wear a mask if you leave your quarantine room or if they enter the room you’re quarantining in.
Myth: If you’ve had coronavirus, you don’t need a mask.
Fact: If you’ve had a coronavirus before or had an antibody test come up positive, you may believe that you don’t need to wear a mask. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no proof that having coronavirus once provides immunity from the virus again or how long that your immunity might last. This means that you could potentially catch the disease again and spread it to others.
Again, everyone should wear a cloth mask when in public unless they have breathing problems, are under age two, or can’t remove the mask without assistance.
Myth: You don’t need to wear a mask outside.
Fact: At this time, being outside is generally considered safer than being inside. When taking a stroll or participating in other outdoor activities by yourself or with people you live with, a mask isn’t required.
However, when you find it difficult to maintain at least six feet of distance from people you don’t live with – such as passing someone on a sidewalk – it’s important to have your mask on. You should always have your mask on hand when you leave your home.
Myth: If I’m wearing a mask, I don’t need to stay home.
Fact: Wearing a mask is highly effective and can make your daily life safer for those around you, but it’s not a permission slip to “return to normal.”
It’s important to stay at home when you can and continue practicing other coronavirus prevention measures like social distancing to help reduce the spread.
Now that you know the myths and facts surrounding mask wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can feel confident and a little more at ease when donning your mask to protect your loved ones from coronavirus.