On June 25th, 2020, the United States broke a world record, but it was nothing close to an exciting or positive event. This record was broken because America now had the most newly reported COVID-19 cases in one day: 39,327. Although states such as Texas, Alabama, and Missouri are reporting all-time highs for new cases, COVID-19 is sweeping the nation no matter where you live. If we can all consistently wear masks to cover our face in public places, that may mean at least one life can be spared, maybe even your own. Many individuals see no use in a piece of cloth in front of your mouth and how that can prevent a disease from entering, but here are just a few misconceptions about wearing a mask, and the science behind why you should be wearing one.
“If I don’t feel sick, I don’t have to wear a mask“
Months ago, in the beginning of this pandemic, it may have been advised to not wear a face covering if you were not at risk of contracting the virus or showing any symptoms, but that is not the case anymore. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC, everyone who has COVID-19 will not show symptoms and can carry the virus to everyone they come into contact with unknowingly. For example, in Texas, the state who reopened the fastest, is now paying the price of having a rise in cases reported. The mayor of San Antonio states “We want to leave you with this statistic to show how effective your personal conduct can be in fighting the coronavirus: Hong Kong and Taiwan have a combined population more than the entire state of Texas… Combined, their death total from coronavirus is 11. Not a daily total, but their total,” the letter states. “The difference? They resolutely wore masks.”. You may never know if you are a carrier or not, but by wearing a mask, the chance of contagion between everyone is now a mere 1.5%.
“The type of face covering I wear doesn’t matter“
While wearing a face covering is a step in the right direction, it is imperative that you wear the best one for you and those around you. Many believe a simple towel over their mouth will suffice, while others think a medical-grade N95 respirator is the only possible choice. However, neither of these beliefs are true. Firstly, since March of 2020, there has been a shortage of N95 masks for those on the front lines because the general public quickly took them in fear, ironically causing more deaths and sickness because of it. On the other hand, another way the virus can easily spread more is if you decide to wear a loose covering over your face instead of a mask. You may not realize it now, but the range that your respiratory air can travel is large, which is why the CDC states that a mask snuggly covering the nose and mouth at all times is the best way to prevent any respiratory droplets from escaping.
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“I only need to wear a mask in extremely busy places“
By now, I’m sure that we are all aware of the six feet that should be between ourselves and others in public, but do you have to wear a face mask even if the grocery store is not that busy or crowded? Yes, you do. It has been declared by most government officials that citizens must wear a mask when it is not possible to maintain a six foot distance, but you should also always wear a mask in enclosed spaces, no matter how far the nearest person is to you. For example, say there were only two people in the entire coffee shop, including yourself, and you both like cream in your coffee, but neither of you are wearing a mask. The other person gets their coffee first and heads to the condiment station, but while putting cream in their drink, they are talking loudly on the phone. If you decide to use the cream after them, you could easily contract the virus if that person had it because of how they touched the creamer and how their voice carried. Rather than taking such a risk, wearing a mask in public will save you the stress and sickness.
“Wearing a mask can make me sick“
Recently, it has become evident to some individuals that wearing a mask can increase the amount of carbon dioxide the body will accumulate and inhale. However, while this is true, your body can only take in too much carbon dioxide if you leave a medical grade respiratory mask on for too long without ever taking it off. The medical term for breathing too much carbon dioxide is hypercapnia, which can cause fatigue, dizziness, and shortness of breath. However, if you wear your mask for a maximum of two hours without taking it off at any time, you will suffer no symptoms and definitely no sickness. Healthcare workers who work extremely long shifts on the front lines within a hospital, however, should take minor breaks if possible so that no headaches will ensue. As for the general public, wearing a mask consistently will not make you anywhere close to being sick because it will protect you more from the COVID-19 virus at hand.
“If I only wear a mask, I won’t contract COVID-19“
Yes, wearing an appropriate mask will highly reduce your chance of being infected with COVID-19. But it is imperative that you don’t forget to wash your hands regularly, maintain social distancing procedures, and keep your overall hygiene in check, along with wearing a mask consistently. As hand sanitizers and toilet paper rolls finally become more available, there is no excuse to not sanitize and stay hygienic throughout this entire process. As you wash your hands and body, washing your mask is another important step you should take in order to lower your risk of contracting and spreading the virus. The CDC suggests that you wash your face mask after every use to maintain your health, so click here to see the easiest and most efficient way you can wash your mask.