Wearing a face mask, while in and of itself not very difficult, is an annoyance that most sane people have no desire to live with. In this time of crisis though, everyone has to do their part, to keep themselves and those they know and love safe. In general, the ways to do so are easy to follow and understand: do not gather in large groups where Covid-19 could easily spread from person to person; stay at least 6 feet away from others at all possible times when in public places, such as stores, restaurants, or gas stations; always remember to wash your hands after using the bathroom and use disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer several times a day to prevent the spread of disease; and when there is a risk of coming into contact with people that could possibly be carrying Covid-19, always wear a mask. If we, as a country and people, wish to return to a normal life, we must be willing to wear a mask, no matter how annoying it can be.
Everyone knows what it is like to wear masks now, or if they don’t, they should. Most masks are uncomfortable, make your voice muffled and difficult to hear, and can cause a few of us to sweat profusely. None of these are good reasons not to wear masks. If you want to do your part in keeping yourself and your fellow Americans safe, you have to wear a face mask. When we speak, breath, cough, laugh, sneeze, or just do any activity that causes us to expel air from our lungs, millions of particles follow with that breath. Sneezing, coughing, and yelling can cause these particles to move clear across a room. Most of these particles are not dangerous on their own. Tiny microbes, carbon monoxide, and common germs we all already have the antibodies to fight against. Covid-19 also travels with these other ordinary particles. This is the main mechanism by which this disease spreads. With an n95 face mask or similar mask, this cuts down on the number of particles that enter the atmosphere, as well as the extent by which they travel from a person. There is evidence that even keeping 6 feet away cannot protect you from exposure to Covid-19, that the disease has the capability to travel further than that, as well as hang in the air for long periods of time. When walking around in a public space, wearing a face mask is one of the few ways that has proven to cut the chance of catching Covid-19 by a significant margin.
N95 respirator masks are regarded as the best possible choice in masks, though other choices can suffice depending on current situations. Surgical masks provide good coverage, though not as well as n95 masks, and ideally should be replaced after a single use. Cloth masks and cone style masks can provide adequate coverage, and cloth masks are washable and reusable, but do not cut down on the number of particles in the air like n95s. Bandanas, single layer masks, and t-shirts do not provide good coverage, and should only be used if no other masks are available. What’s important to remember is to use the mask in conjunction with other preventative measures, and to remain knowledgeable about the current crisis as well as the best ways to help prevent further loss of life. We all have to work together to solve this global health crisis. Mask up!