Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the panic buying of face masks has spread even faster than the coronavirus. Face masks were being sold out quickly, leading to an acute shortage of PPE supplies in many countries. This has created intense pressure on face mask manufacturers/suppliers to produce face masks, especially N95 masks on a large-scale.
As states are now reopening from stay-at-home orders, many countries across the globe, including California, have made it mandatory to wear face coverings or masks when going out in public to control the spread of COVID-19. While both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization now suggest wearing cloth masks for the general public, earlier both organizations emphasized just the opposite. These fluctuating guidelines have confused the public about the use of face masks. Below are some questions that might be influencing your decision to wear or not to wear face masks.
Why is CDC Changing Guidance on the Use of Face Masks?
At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the WHO suggested that wearing a medical mask is one of the most effective prevention measures to control the spread of certain respiratory diseases, including SARS-CoV-2] in affected regions. With the increased demand for medical-grade masks such as N95 masks, face mask manufacturers/suppliers as well as personal protective equipment manufacturers were facing difficulty in meeting the demand spikes. Hence, there was a limited supply of surgical masks and N95 respirators, after which, the CDC and WHO made N95 respirators and medical-grade masks strictly for the use of healthcare professionals. For the general public, wearing cloth face masks or coverings would be sufficient.
Another major factor that led to the change of guidance was the uncertainty of who’s infected and who’s potentially infected. The CDC has changed the guidelines after realizing that both pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmissions are possible during the pandemic. In the current scenario, you never know who all are infected since there’s a lot of asymptomatic infection. Therefore, it is recommended that everyone should wear a face mask when in public.
A Few Pieces of Evidence That Prove the Effectiveness of Face Masks Against COVID-19
There are several pieces of evidence available that prove the effectiveness of face masks.
- An experiment was carried out using high-speed video and it was found that hundreds of droplets ranging from 20 to 500 micrometers were produced when saying a simple, short phrase. However, all these droplets were blocked when the mouth was covered by a damp washcloth. With another experiment of people having influenza or the common cold, it was found that wearing a surgical mask reduced the amount of these virus-containing droplets and aerosols.
- The latest study published in Health Affairs, for example, compared the COVID-19 growth rate before and after wearing a mask was made mandatory in 15 states and the District of Columbia. The study revealed that wearing masks reduce the COVID-19 spread rate. In the first five days, the daily growth rate of COVID-19 was reduced by 0.9 percentage-points as compared to the five days before the mandate. Within three weeks, the daily growth rate of COVID-19 has been reduced by percentage-points.
- Another study was based on death rates across 198 countries. It was found that countries following the cultural norms or government policies supporting wearing masks have lower death rates due to COVID-19.
- In addition to these, there was another case in late May when two hairstylists in Missouri had close contact with 140 clients while being infected with COVID-19. Everyone wore a face mask and none of their clients tested COVID-19 positive.
Apart from all these strands of evidence, there are many other facts that prove the effectiveness of face mask in protecting people against COVID-19.
Does a Face Mask Protect a People Wearing It or the People Surrounding the Person?
It’s true that face masks prevent the people with COVID-19 from spreading the infection from one person to another. However, if you’re not having COVID-19, you’re still going to benefit from wearing a mask.
Face masks may be more effective as a source control as they can block larger expelled virus-containing droplets from evaporating into smaller droplets that can spread further.
However, you could still get infected by the virus through the membranes in your eyes. This is a risk that face masks cannot eliminate.
As one of the leading bulk PPE suppliers in the USA, we suggest people buying high-quality and perfectly-fitting face masks that cover your nose, mouth completely, and leave no gap for the entrance of droplets.
How Many People Should Wear Face Masks to Reduce the Community Spread?
While we cannot expect that 100 percent of people would wear masks, we can expect at least 80 percent of people to wear when in public. Researchers predict that 80% of the population wearing face masks is more likely to reduce COVID-19 spread.
Even if you belong to a community where only a few people wear face masks or coverings, you still need to wear a mask to reduce the chances of getting infected.
How Does the Type of Face Mask Reduce the Spread of COVID-9?
There are numerous personal protective equipment manufacturers and face mask manufacturers/suppliers selling a wide range of face masks made of different materials. Researchers have compared several varieties of face masks available in the market, with different designs, materials, and styles. For the general public, comfort is more important. The best face mask is one that is more comfortable and consistent to wear.
N95 respirators are crucial in medical situations such as intubation. Surgical masks are more effective and protective than cloth face masks, and many people find this type of masks lighter and more comfortable to wear.
In short, any face mask that covers your nose and mouth completely will be good enough for the general public.
However, wearing N95 respirators with valves is not a good idea because they do not protect the ones around you. These one-way valves close when the wearer inhales the air, but open when the wearer exhales the air, letting unfiltered air and droplets to come out. Therefore, it is best to wear non-valved face masks instead of masks with a valve.
Do We Need to Wear Face Mask If We Practice Social Distancing?
Although there are many face mask manufacturers/suppliers that produce highly-durable and effective face masks are, they alone cannot reduce the spread of the COVID-19. You need to follow 3Ws to reduce the spread of COVID-19 – Wear a mask, Wash your hands, and Watch your physical distance from the other person.
However, of the three, the most important thing is to wear a mask since COVID-19 is mainly spread through inhaled virus-containing respiratory droplets. Therefore, you should also wear masks and practice social distancing when in public.
Although face mask manufacturers are trying their best to make high-quality face masks for protection against COVID-19, one should not rely on the face masks alone for ensuring protection. As we continue to battle the global fight against COVID-19, you should consider practicing hand hygiene, maintaining social distance, and using face masks rightly to increase the effectiveness of the masks and flatten the curve of COVID-19.
As one of the leading bulk PPE suppliers in the USA, we have a large network of personal protective manufacturers and suppliers who sell only FDA-approved, medical-grade PPE and other medical supplies at the most affordable rates. So whether you’re looking to buy face masks, gloves, isolation gowns, N95 respirators, or any other category of PPE, Co-Defend has got you covered.
If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms or you have had symptoms before, Co-Defend is now offering COVID-19 testing services. Just contact us to get screened for COVID-19 today.
Q.1. What are the different types of face masks available in the market?
Ans. The different types of face masks include:
- Surgical masks, primarily worn by healthcare professionals during surgery to protect them from the blood, body fluids, or any other liquid droplets expelled from the infected patient’s mouth or nose.
- N95 respirators, a particulate-filtering face-piece respirator that filters at least 95% of airborne particles.
- Homemade cloth face masks or coverings made from t-shirts, bandanas, coffee filters, and other cotton clothes.
Q.2. What type of face mask should children wear?
Ans. Healthy children can wear fabric or non-medical mask. This facilitates source control, which means, that face masks prevent the virus from being transmitted to others if they are infected and do not if they are infected.
Q.3. Should we wear face masks while exercising during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Ans. It is recommended NOT to wear face masks when exercising because it may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably. Your face masks get wet due to the sweat and you may find it difficult to breathe. It also facilitates the growth of microorganisms. The best practice is to maintain a physical distance of at least 1 meter from others when exercising during the pandemic.
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