Why it’s important to wear a face mask
Whether or not to wear a mask has been a concern among many people. Saria Saccocio, MD, Prisma Health Ambulatory Chief Medical Officer, explained why it’s important to wear a mask in public.
“Respiratory droplets are the way COVID-19 spreads from one person to another – through sneezing, coughing or even singing,” she said. A cough releases about 3,000 droplets into the air, compared to a sneeze that releases 30,000 droplets. “And whether you’re spitting or not, 50 to 5,000 droplets can be transmitted in the air just by breathing.”
Dr. Saccocio said it’s important to use social distancing and masks because data is showing that people who have no symptoms spread 44% of COVID-19 cases.
“I support what we’re seeing from Costco and other stores that are requesting and requiring that people wear masks. It’s for the protection of their workers, so they can continue working, and also for those in the community who are coming into their stores. It’s not meant to be restrictive, but to keep people safe,” she said.
What if I choose not to wear a mask?
“If you are out and choose not to wear a mask, we respect that choice,” said Dr. Saccocio. “At the same time, when others are choosing to wear masks, it’s important to support that behavior. Perhaps they’re at high risk, or a healthcare worker, or a caregiver for their parents or others who may be at risk, such as someone with cancer or a suppressed immune system.”
What if the mask causes me discomfort?
Dr. Saccocio said the mask should not cut off your ability to breathe or cause headaches.
“People may be experiencing headaches because they’ve tied the mask too tight. You certainly want the mask to be fitted, but it doesn’t need to cut off your circulation,” she said.
What type of mask should I use?
Dr. Saccocio said the CDC is recommending cloth face coverings for the public to preserve the supply of surgical masks for healthcare workers or others who are in high-risk environments. You can create your own mask from a T-shirt or a bandana.
She said it’s important that the mask is multi-layered to help catch the respiratory droplets, and she encourages people to wash their masks frequently.
“The more that you wash the material, the greater the risk that respiratory droplets can slip through, so it’s important to replace those masks after several washes,” she said.
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