Hi, my name is Doctor Meera Atkins and I’m a Medical Director with Humana.
I’d like to provide some guidance on how masks should be used in order to help protect against the spread of Coronavirus.
Most of us probably haven’t had to worry about properly covering our nose and mouth in the past — but the Centers for Disease Control is currently recommending that everybody wear face coverings in public — and your state leaders may even be mandating that you do so.
There are several different types of masks that you can use:
The N95 masks are meant for professional healthcare providers and should be reserved for front-line medical staff
Surgical or medical masks are made and sold by medical supply companies, and they can be ordered online
Homemade and cloth masks are typically sold online as well by individuals and retailers and they tend to be machine washable.
Finally, face coverings can include scarves or other accessories that you can use to cover your nose and your mouth
Whatever you choose to wear, the World Health Organization (or WHO) has issued some guidelines.
Make sure that you wash your hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before putting on a mask.
Make sure that the mask does not have any tears or holes in it. If it does, you shouldn’t use it.
Often, the masks also have the stiff metal that should go over the bridge of your nose. Put the ear loops in place, make sure your nose, your mouth and your chin are covered and that it fits snugly on the sides.
Remove them using the ear loops.
Try not to touch the mask while you’re using it. It’s hard to do. So if you do so, make sure that you wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use some alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Don’t re-use single-use masks. Replace (or wash) your mask with a new one if it’s damp.
When you take your mask off, don’t touch the front of the mask. Remove the mask from the ties, or from the ear loops.
And finally, when you need to throw your mask away, throw it away in a closed bin and wash your hands afterwards.
You may want to make your own mask. The CDC also has some guidelines on this.
They do recommend that cloth masks should fit snugly against your face on the sides, and that they be secured with ear loops or ties.
They should include multiple layers of fabric that allow for easy breathing. And they should be washed routinely, depending on how often it’s used.
There aren’t strict guidelines for how often you should wash your mask. But if you wear it regularly, some experts do recommend washing it once a week.
Cloth face coverings should not be put on kids under the age of 2, or on anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious or incapacitated, or if they’re not able to remove the mask without assistance.
If you want to learn more about making a quick “no-sew” cloth mask, go to Humana’s Virtual Neighborhood Center on Facebook and look for the video tutorial.
Masks alone cannot protect you from COVID. But they may help slow the spread to others.
Remember to maintain social distancing and wash your hands. So stay home when you can. And when you have to go out, make sure you use a mask.
Be well everyone. And stay safe.