Will Wearing a Mask Protect Me From Getting Coronavirus?
A properly fitted mask provides two-fold protection for the wearer and those around them. For the wearer, it can protect the face from large droplets released by someone’s cough, sneeze, or breath, and it can also help block the wearer from exposing others to infectious droplets through the same means. However, the level of protection a mask provides depends on its material and proper usage by the wearer.
Coronavirus Protection: N95 Masks vs Surgical Masks vs Cloth Masks
The masks that provide the best protection against coronavirus are N95 masks and certain surgical masks:
- A tight-fitting N95 mask that is properly fitted to the face is able to block out small particle aerosols and large droplets (roughly 95% of airborne particles) through which the virus is typically transmitted.
- A surgical mask, which is made from a more porous material and has a looser fit than an N95 mask, is more effective at limiting the spread of droplets from coughs and sneezes coming from the wearer. Because it is highly permeable, it does not provide much protection against small virus particles. N95 and surgical masks are considered critical supplies, which should be reserved for healthcare workers and medical first responders who need the masks as they come in direct contact with coronavirus patients.
- Cloth Masks: For non-healthcare workers, the CDC currently recommends wearing cloth face masks if we must leave the home. Cloth masks does not provide much protection against small virus particles.
Fit Your Mask Properly On Your Face to Minimize Contamination
When putting on your face mask, make sure that the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face to create as much of a seal as possible. The mask should be tightly but comfortably secured behind your ears or your head and neck. Don’t forget to adjust your mask to completely cover your nose, mouth, and chin.
It’s important to take off your mask properly so that you minimize contamination of your face. You should start by carefully removing the mask starting at the ears or head and neck. Avoid touching your nose, mouth, or eyes when taking off your mask and make sure to wash your hands immediately after removal.
For more information, check out Vox's article of Mask Usage here.
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