There is enough evidence to conclude that if we'd all been wearing masks since the outset of the pandemic, we'd have the virus much more under control by this point. But you may have noticed that not all masks are created equally. Are some masks superior to others? In short, yes.
Let's peel back the masks and take a look at the 5 things you need to know (especially when there are six of them!).
- Why wear a mask? Plenty of studies now show that if we’d been diligent right from the start and all wore them the worst of the coronavirus would be over by now. But hindsight is 20/20 - basically, our entire year!
- If you work in health care, have underlying health issues, are elderly, or have tested positive for coronavirus then wear a medical mask.
- If you’re healthy, and we know this is a tricky definition when it comes to the coronavirus, then wear a fabric mask over your mouth and nose. It’s amazing how many people leave their noses outside the mask rendering it useless. I mean when you wear pants you do the zipper up, right? So please..
- The best medical masks are the N95 and N99. As their names suggest, they provide 95 to 99 percent protection based on exposure in a highly contaminated area. A close runner-up is, and you see ‘em all over the place when you’re out, the disposable surgical mask. And they’re a very good choice, about three times more effective than home-made masks.
- “Hybrid” fabric masks that have a mixture of layers and materials like cotton and silk or flannel or chiffon (what the heck is chiffon - an 80’s band??) appear to offer pretty good protection from the smaller virus particles - and in fact three layers of cotton or chiffon might even just be as good as a medical mask! Whaaaaat?
- Apparently, vacuum cleaner bags also offer good protection - and your house will be really clean if you wear it indoors for 12 hours. OK, I’m kidding! But these cleaner bags are being seriously considered for elements of a mask. And what’s better than nothing? Well a scarf, bandana or ripping up a t shirt made of cotton can help reduce exposure by nearly 50 percent So it may look cool but it’s not the safest choice.