Why Wearing Face Masks in Public Will be the New Norm

3 min

With over 2.9 million cases of COVID-19 confirmed worldwide, governments around the world have taken drastic measures to prevent the disease from spreading. One such measure is the requirement, or recommendation, for individuals to wear face masks in public. Wearing face masks can reduce respiratory droplet transmission. The idea behind having the public wear face masks is that if everyone wears a mask, individuals will protect each other. It can also serve as a reminder to people to not touch their face, especially in highly populated areas, such as grocery stores. We now know from the Center for Disease Control that many people can have Coronavirus and be asymptomatic, which means that they can be carrying the virus and not show any symptoms. This is why it is important for everyone to wear a face mask rather than just the individuals who show symptoms.

In countries such as China and Japan, wearing face masks is nothing new. Japanese people regularly wear face masks when feeling sick, as a courtesy, to stop their sneezes from reaching other people. In 2002 when SARS overtook China, face masks started to become more popular. Now facemasks are used for everything from protecting against air pollution to creating a social firewall for teens who don’t want to socialize. In many Asian countries masks now serve as a fashion item. Shops lining the streets in China will feature face masks with patterns or popular social icons. 

As masks have been introduced into other countries, such as the United States, there has been a lot of discussion among the public regarding whether masks actually work to protect against COVID-19. While wearing a face mask is not a guarantee that you won’t become sick, there is research that indicates that masks can reduce transmission via respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing, which has been deemed as the main transmission route for the Coronavirus. It has been studied that the personal benefit of wearing a mask is relatively low. While the mask will work to keep your respiratory droplets in, it is unclear whether or not the mask will keep other’s respiratory droplets out. This is currently being studied and evaluated by scientists around the world. Wearing a mask will protect those around you. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you still risk carrying the virus to others who might be more at risk. While a mask might not protect you from the virus directly, it does make you less likely to touch your face, which is one of the main ways that the virus can spread. Even when you do wear a mask, it is still important to maintain a six foot distance from others if possible.  

Of course, if you do choose to wear a mask, it must be worn properly in order to be effective. Before you even put your mask on you should wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Once your hands are clean and dry, you should check your mask for any defects. Common defects include a missing tie or tear in the mask. If your mask is defective, it will need to be thrown away. You will want to make sure that the intended exterior of the mask is facing out. If you are using a homemade mask, you will want to establish which side is the exterior. It helps if both sides of the mask are a different color. If the mask has ear lobes, put one loop around each ear. If the mask ties, tie the upper part of the mask with a bow on the back of your head. Once your mask is in place, use your index finger and thumb to pinch the bendable top edge, (if it has one), on the bridge of your nose. If the mask ties, at this point, you will want to tie the lower part behind your head with a bow. Lastly, you must make sure that your mask is secure. The mask should cover your nose and mouth. The bottom edge of the mask should be under your chin. 
Whether wearing a mask is a personal decision or a requirement where you live, it’s important to find the right mask for you. If you do decide to wear a mask, you might choose to wear a washable mask, which is more environmentally sound, rather than constantly throwing your mask away. Instaprep is one site that offers a variety of facemasks at affordable prices. Etsy and eBay are other sites that you might look to find washable face masks. With over 2.9 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, it’s important that we take the necessary precautions to flatten the curve. In addition to social distancing, wearing a face mask is one possible way to help stop the transmission of the disease.

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