Mask Up

“Be careful how you treat people because you may be entertaining angels.” Isaiah Tyrelle Boyd’s grandmother

You don’t wear a mask to protect yourself. You wear a mask to protect others.

Yes, they’re uncomfortable. They may bother your face or make it harder to breathe. Wearing a mask shows concern and respect towards your neighbor, towards your community.

Let’s talk about the difference between two common types of masks using the infographic below. The mask pictured on the left is a surgical mask. This is the type of mask that most folks have access to. This type of mask is not designed to protect yourself. It’s designed to protect others. The idea is that you wearing a mask will protect others. And others wearing a mask will protect you. Now, the mask on the right is a respirator. Generally, these masks should be reserved for healthcare professionals facing patients as well as individuals that have pre-existing conditions that may make them vulnerable to COVID (if they are able to obtain one). Respirators are for both self-protection and the protection of others.

Screen Shot 2020-07-07 at 6.48.27 PM

What about cloth masks? I haven’t seen any major peer-reviewed evidence on the effectiveness of different kinds of cloth masks. I was able to locate a 5 question guidelines from Stanford that mentions masks made from cloth material (Source: 5 Questions: Stanford scientists on COVID-19 mask guidelines)

<<3. What’s the best way to make and use a mask? 

Chu: Our studies show that, if constructed properly with high-quality materials, a homemade cloth mask can function as well as or better than a surgical mask. Based on our studies, the WHO now recommends a cloth mask of at least three layers of different materials. The outermost layer should be made of a fabric that is at least somewhat water resistant. That can be a fabric that is a combination of cotton and polyester, nylon or rayon. The middle layer should either be a polypropylene — a spunbond material used in some reusable grocery bags, mattress covers and craft projects — or three-ply disposable facial tissues like Kleenex. Finally, the innermost layer should be a wicking material to draw moisture away from the face. One hundred percent soft cotton works well here. >>

The next time you walk out the door, even if you only have access to  a surgical mask that won’t protect you, but will protect others, maybe just for one second –  try to think beyond yourself and what you’d like to do. Think about the bigger picture: the community, the WE, humanity at large.

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