Be a good neighbor; wear mask correctly

Published 6:30 pm Tuesday, August 25, 2020

State and national health officials recommend wearing a mask as one tool to prevent contracting or spreading COVID-19,  but it’s important to make sure you are wearing the mask correctly to offer the utmost protection for you and those you’re around.

Masks act as a barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling through the air and onto others or surfaces. When a person coughs, sneezes or even raises their voice while wearing a mask, the mask catches the respiratory droplets that could be carrying the potentially deadly coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls this “source control.”

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“This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth,” according to the CDC.

COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and do not know that they are infected. That’s why it’s important for everyone to wear masks in public settings and practice social distancing.

Virginia has been under a mandatory mask order for months, and while for the most part, people have adhered to this order, many are not wearing their masks correctly. A trip to any local store would turn up at least one person wearing their mask around their neck or under their nose.

It’s not enough to simply skirt by the order by having a mask. It’s essential that this critical tool in the fight against COVID is used correctly.

Lives depend on it.

Here are some tips from the CDC on how to wear your mask correctly:

  • Wash your hands before putting on your mask.
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Make sure you can breathe easily.

CDC does not recommend use of masks or cloth masks for source control if they have an exhalation valve or vent

  • When removing the mask, only touch the strings or the ear loops. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing and wash hands immediately after removing.
  • Wash your mask often.

While masks are a critical tool in limiting the spread of COVID, it’s also important to practice other every day healthy habits including maintaining six feet of social distancing, avoiding contact with people who are ill, staying away from others when you are ill, washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 second each time and using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

Taking these simple, selfless steps can help slow the spread of the virus and potentially save lives. Right now, these are the only tools we have to do so. Let’s use them and use them correctly.