Coronavirus News Update: Mask Up!

white surgical face masks with US Flag on the left | Feature | Coronavirus News Update: Mask Up!
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Coronavirus News: Masks and The New Normal

Support From the President

President Donald Trump wearing black medical mask | Support From the President

As the United States confirms over four million cases of COVID-19, President Donald Trump finally urges the public to wear a mask. During a White House briefing, the President asked everyone to wear a mask and recognized its impact on curbing the spread of the virus.

Before his recent support for masks, the President has been reluctant to wear masks in public. Even if many countries around the world have adopted mask-wearing as a part of their new normal, mask resistance continues to be an on-going issue in the United States.

Mask Mandates Around the World

The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In fact, many countries around the world have set mask-wearing mandates.

Here are a few examples of mask mandates around the world:

  • United Kingdom – Face coverings are required when taking public transportation. Face coverings are also required in stores in England.
  • France – Masks are required in all enclosed public spaces (ex: museums, banks, shopping malls, and cinemas).
  • Czech Republic – Masks are mandatory for anyone outside of their own home.
    Germany – Masks are mandatory in public spaces.
  • Spain – Masks are mandatory in any area where social distancing is not possible (at least two meters between individuals).
  • Italy – Face coverings are required in all retail stores.
    Iran and Pakistan – masks are required in high-traffic public spaces.

Many of these mandates also include hefty fines for violations. Governments in Asian countries have also recommended masks since the beginning of the pandemic.

Mask-wearing is not new to many countries in Asia, especially those that were hit by the SARS epidemic in 2003. In the United States, though, masks-wearing remains a contentious issue.

There is even a case of a Governor suing a Mayor for imposing a mask mandate. Scientists and health experts are baffled at how mask-wearing became a political issue when it should be a public health concern.

RELATED: Coronavirus News Update: Understanding The Role Of Superspreaders In The COVID-19 Pandemic

Businesses Taking the Lead

Different states have their mask requirements, but the President hasn’t provided a nationwide mask-wearing mandate. Without consistent guidelines across the country, many businesses came up with their own guidelines.

For example, the Indianapolis 500 will reduce their audience intake capacity and require all attendees to wear face coverings. United Airlines will also require all of its passengers to wear face coverings as soon as they check into the airport and on board the plane.

Lowe’s Home Improvement also requests all of its customers to wear masks. Their employees can’t enforce mask-wearing, but they will provide free masks for customers.

As large retail chains across the country announce their own mask-wearing policies, the National Retail Federation recommends a national mask-wearing policy. They believe that a federal policy can help protect both the customers and employees.

Why Mask Up?

a woman wearing surgical face mask | Why Mask Up? | Coronavirus News Update: Mask Up!

Public health experts recommend mask-wearing because it’s an effective, simple, and inexpensive way to prevent further COVID-19 infections. The virus is usually transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets.

An infected person can release these droplets when they cough, sneeze, talk, or laugh. Studies show that masks can help reduce the release of droplets and help prevent the inhalation of droplets as well.

It’s even more important to wear masks because recent findings indicate that asymptomatic individuals could spread the coronavirus. While community transmission rates remain high, it’s important to stay vigilant and mask up.

CDC Guidelines for Masking Up

The CDC offers the following considerations when it comes to wearing cloth face coverings:

  • Children under two years old should not wear face coverings.
  • People who have trouble breathing should not wear a face covering.
  • People who are not conscious, incapacitated, or can’t take off the covering by themselves should not wear a face covering.
  • It’s important to wear face coverings when you’re around people you don’t live with. This is especially important when it’s difficult to maintain social distance (at least six feet apart).
  • Cloth face coverings are recommended for the general public. Respirators or surgical masks should be reserved for first responders and health care workers.

For those who Can wear face coverings, the CDC also provides guidelines on how to wear them:

  • Wash your hand with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before you touch your face covering. If you don’t have access to soap and water, sanitize with an alcohol-based sanitizer (it should contain at least 60% alcohol).
  • Put on your face covering. Make sure that it’s over your nose and mouth.
  • Secure the bottom end under your chin.
  • Try to eliminate gaps between the mask and your face. It should be snug against your cheeks.
  • You should be able to breathe well in the mask.
  • Once your covering is securely on your face, avoid touching the mask while you’re out.
  • If you accidentally touch it while you’re out, make sure to wash or sanitize your hands.
  • If you must remove it, use the ear loops and take it off of your face thoroughly. Do not wear your mask on your chin or forehead.
  • Once you remove your face covering safely, wash it immediately. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before you touch anything else (especially your face).

The CDC also offers tips for washing and drying face coverings:

  • When washing your face covering, use the warmest water option available in your machine. You can also wash it by hand with the appropriate household bleach solution.
  • When drying your face covering, try to use the highest heat option available in your dryer. If you’re air-drying it, make sure to lay it out flat and allow it to get a lot of direct sunlight.

It’s essential to wash your face covering after each use. It might be helpful to have extra face coverings available for you and your family to use.

Other Ways to Avoid Infection

a woman using hand sanitiser to wash her hands | Other Ways to Avoid Infection

Mask-wearing is one way to curb infection, but there are other things you need to do to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. It’s important to regularly clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, develop a habit of handwashing, and maintain social distancing protocols.

It’s also essential to monitor your health during the pandemic. If you or your family begin to experience any of the COVID-19 symptoms, it’s best to self-isolate and consult a doctor.

Telemedicine services, like StreamMD, allow you to get screened by a doctor for COVID-19 from the safety of your own home. Contact them today to learn about their consultation options.

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