THE NURSE CORNER
by Debbie Wolfe – Garfield Nurse
COVID19: Mask Facts
Even among the experts, opinions vary on the use of masks when out in public.
On the one hand, people are being encouraged to use masks when shopping, going to appointments etc. On the other hand, we hear that masks have limited ability to prevent the spread of disease.
It is important to understand what masks can and cannot do during these uncertain days surrounding COVID19.
Healthcare workers, in closest contact with infected patients, wear a high quality N95 mask. These are masks that are specially fitted to an individual’s face and are highly effective in preventing virus’ from passing both in and out. These masks are not available for public use and rightly so. The N95 masks are designated for healthcare workers only who are on the frontlines every day fighting to keep this virus contained.
The masks available to the general public are simple surgical masks-which are also coming up scarce- and homemade fabric versions of face covering masks. Research on the effectiveness of homemade masks is minimal.
Any mask is only as effective as it’s user so please follow these mask guidelines!
- Wash hands before putting on your mask
- Put your mask on to cover the mouth and nose and try to get the tightest fit possible.
- Once the mask is on LEAVE IT ALONE!! The effectiveness of masks goes way down when people adjust them, take them on and off, touch the fronts, rub eyes etc. If you do accidentally touch your mask, use hand sanitizer as soon as possible to clean your hands.
- If your mask becomes moist from a sneeze or cough, replace it as soon as possible. Fabric masks should be removed at the end of your outing and laundered as soon as possible in hot water. It might be helpful to wash your mask inside of a pillowcase since it so small. Fabric masks need to be completely dry before using again.
- When removing your mask, DO NOT TOUCH THE FRONT. Untie the strings or remove ear loops and either discard or launder depending on what kind of mask you have but DO NOT TOUCH THE FRONT OF THE MASK!!!!
Remember, simple masks do not provide 100% protection. If you are sick, wearing a mask is a good idea since even simple masks can keep particles from spreading to others. For the cautious, healthy person, masks may provide some protection if worn while shopping etc. but they are not the best at keeping outside particles from getting in.
So use your mask wisely by understanding their benefits and limitations. Continue to practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds (sing your ABC’s!) and just stay at home as much as possible!!
Together we will ride out this storm! Be safe and stay healthy!!!