Unless otherwise directed by a medical professional, the general public do not need face masks as a preventative measure against COVID-19.
Currently the US Center for Disease Control’s facemask reccomendations are listed as:
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged Americans to stop buying medical masks in a tweet on Saturday, stating they aren’t effective in preventing the general public from catching coronavirus and are needed for medical professionals.
Face masks help trap germs when you breath out, cough or sneeze; not necessarily when you breath in.
There are websites (and social media posts) suggesting to use N95 facemasks over surgical masks. It is important to remember that N95 facemasks must be properly fitted to the wearer to be effective. Medical professionals who utilize this style of facemask receive yearly fittings to ensure a proper seal will be created for their mask. This mask is not an item to purchase and hope for the best.
Prevention for the Public
The general public is being reminded to maintain good hygiene practices. This includes washing your hands, avoiding touching your face (eyes, nose, and mouth) and covering your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough. If you are sick stay home.
These are general best prevention practices. They are also excellent to follow to avoid catching or spreading the common cold or influenza(flu).
The CDC’s prevention recommendations:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Let’s all pretend we’re Dr. Grey, House and Hawkeye about to go into surgery and wash the ever living hell out of our hands….while singing happy birthday to ourselves.
Those with a compromised immune system should discuss any additional prevention methods you should apply with your doctor. This may include wearing a facemask.
Remember, this is an evolving situation. Updates may seem scary. Keep breathing (not through a facemask, unless recommended by a doctor). Stay informed and alert, but not anxious.
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