COVID-19: How much protection do fabric face masks offer?
Can face masks help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)? According to the Mayo Clinic, the answer is Yes. Fabric face masks combined with other preventive measures, such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing, help slow the spread of the disease.
So why didn't the CDC recommend face masks form the beginning of the pandemic? The best answer we can decern is, at the time, experts didn't understand the extent to which people with COVID-19 would spread the virus before symptoms appeared. We also had not yet gained a full understanding of how many people could be infected and be asymptotic. Both groups can unknowingly spread the virus to others.
Once there was enough data to support how the virus was transmitted and that people could transmit it without symptoms, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did an about-face on face masks. The result was the CDC recommending the widespread use of cloth face coverings to help prevent transmission of COVID-19 by people who have the virus but don't know it.
Bellin Health, a front line hospital near our community, shared the following infographic. Based on this data, individuals can reduce their chances of transmitting the coronavirus and other germs by 97.8% when both people wear a face mask.
At Milwaukee Mask, we understand that wearing a mask in public is unfamiliar for most of us. However, in other countries wearing a face covering when you are sick, or even a little under the weather is commonplace. Why? Because the ill individual can effectively protect others around them with face masks, washing their hands, and keeping their distance. Our goal is to create face masks that people will want to wear. With over 100 face mask designs, we have patriotic, fashionable florals, artistic, scenery, kids inspired, and many more designs themes to choose from.
While respirators such as N95 masks are in short supply, cloth masks are more accessible and have the significant benefit of being reusable. Cloth masks and N95's have different purposes; both are intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. An N95 respirator helps protect the wearer from contracting the virus. The primary function of a fabric face mask is to help protect others in case the wearer is infected.
Countries that required face masks, testing, isolation, and social distancing early in the pandemic seem to have had some success slowing the disease's spread. Common sense also suggests that some protection is better than none. Wearing a fabric mask will lose its value if not combined with frequent hand-washing and social distancing.
Wearing a fabric face mask
Health authorities recommend wearing face masks in public areas where social distancing is challenging to maintain, such as in grocery stores, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
Here are a few pointers for donning and removing a face mask:
- Place your mask over your mouth and nose.
- Our unique cord system makes it easy to adjust behind your head and ensure it's snug.
- Don't touch your mask while wearing it.
- If you touch your mask, wash or sanitize your hands.
- Remove the mask by releasing the slide lock on the cord.
Then slide the top portion forward off the top of your head.
Lower the mask to your chest.
Then lift the bottom section of the cord over your head.
- Try not to touch the mask with your hands.
- Wash your hands immediately after removing your mask.
Fabric Face Mask Precautions
- Don't put masks on anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help.
- Don't put masks on children under two years of age.
- Don't use face masks as a substitute for social distancing.