What you need to know
By: Angela Luna
We did the research and compiled information from various sources into this blog post for you, so you can best understand if our “emergency mask” is a preventative solution for you during this pandemic.
Do you even need a mask?
Officials have gone back and forth whether or not face masks are helpful. According to the Guardian:
“Wearing a face mask is certainly not an iron-clad guarantee that you won’t get sick — viruses can also transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles, known as aerosols, can penetrate masks. However, masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of coronavirus, and some studies have estimated a roughly fivefold protection versus no barrier alone (although others have found lower levels of effectiveness).”
The Chinese Center’s George Gao states that:
“This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role — you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth. Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others. It’s not to protect yourself. It’s to protect people against the droplets coming out of your respiratory tract … I don’t want to frighten you, but when people speak and breathe and sing — you don’t have to sneeze or cough — these droplets are coming out.”
Essentially, face masks are good for several reasons:
- It can reduce the amount of droplets you are spreading.
- It can prevent facial touching, and reduce the risk of you accidentally infecting yourself by touching your nose or mouth and allowing the virus entry into your body.
- N95 filtering masks can block the intake and spread of aerosols through your nose and mouth.
Does this mean I should get and wear an N95 mask?
You should be wearing a N95 mask if you are a health worker, you have covid-19 and must go out in public for some reason, or you are caring for someone who has covid-19. According to the CDC, “A surgical N95 (also referred as a medical respirator) is recommended only for use by healthcare personnel (HCP) who need protection from both airborne and fluid hazards (e.g., splashes, sprays). These respirators are not used or needed outside of healthcare settings.”
Panic buying of N95 and surgical masks has caused a shortage for health workers. Due to a decreased supply in needed masks, hospital employees have needed to reuse contaminated masks that are only designed for single use. The need to extend the life of each mask has then created a demand for fabric masks.
What can a fabric mask do?
These masks are made from cotton, so it does not have the filtering ability of an N95 mask. That said, as we have seen shortages in the supply of masks in general, governments and hospitals have advocated for the use of fabric masks, as they can still be used to combat the spread of covid-19 in several ways:
- they reduce the possibility of contracting the virus by accidentally touching your face, mouth, and nose
- within hospitals, they can be worn by lower risk workers, preserving N95 or surgical masks for providers who need them most
- they can serve as a reusable, washable protective cover for surgical masks, which must be thrown away once they are soiled or wet (many health workers have had to reuse surgical masks due to the low supply)
The CDC has said that if the supply of N95 masks runs out completely, front line healthcare workers should wear fabric masks for patient care in tandem with a face shield. Basically — it’s better to be wearing a fabric mask, than wearing nothing at all.
Fabric masks are machine washable and can be used alone to combat facial touching in public, or can be worn as a fitted, protective cover for surgical or N95 masks. If anyone is infected, they should not be leaving the house, but if they must visit a doctor, they should wear non-permeable mask to avoid spreading the virus.
What if I already have N95 masks and surgical masks?
If you purchased N95 or surgical masks but now understand that they are not necessary for your situation, you can donate your masks to your local hospital.
Pyer Moss has also converted their NYC studio into a donation center for masks and gloves. You can mail unused N95 masks and latex gloves to their address:
YOUR FRIENDS IN NEW YORK, 242 W 27th St, 7th Floor, New York NY 10001