Don't throw away those masks just yet
The mask mandate has been lifted in Texas and other states but it is still advised by medical experts to wear a mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Here are some helpful reminders and tips from Baylor College of Medicine about why masking is so important.
Do masks work?
Masks help to lower the likelihood of spreading diseases such as COVID-19. More people wearing masks overall lowers the chance of spread and infection within a community.
For example, someone may unknowingly be infected with COVID-19, and by wearing a mask they are blocking the spread of their germs. Others who are not infected can lower the likelihood they are exposed to those germs by wearing a mask as well.
How to wear a mask
It is important that a face mask fully covers the nose and mouth at all times, whether it is a cloth or medical mask. Masks should fit snugly, with no large gaps.
To remove or put on a mask, it is best to only touch the ear loops or ties and not the part of the mask that covers the nose and mouth. It is also important to wash or disinfect your hands before or after touching the mask or your face during the day. Combining these safety precautions will help to lower your chance of infection.
Which mask is better?
There isn’t data to say exactly which type of mask is best -- as long as you are wearing a cloth covering over your nose and mouth, it will help prevent the spread of disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends disposable medical face masks, cloth masks made with tightly woven fabric like cotton, masks that have two or three layers or those with a pocket for filters. Double masks may be worn when a single mask does not fit properly or is not multi-layered.
And if you have a reusable mask, you should wash it at least daily after use. Only use disposable masks once.
When should I wear a mask? CDC guidelines have just changed for those who are vaccinated!
A mask should be worn by unvaccinated people in public or whenever you are around other people, particularly if you are unable to remain 6 feet apart.
New CDC guidance on mask wearing have been issued for those who have been fully vaccinated. According to the CDC, this guidance will continue to be updated and expanded based on level of community spread and as more people are vaccinated.
Wearing a mask, along with other precautions, such as handwashing and physical distancing, are important strategies to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Source: Dr. Stacey Rose, assistant professor of infectious disease at Baylor College of Medicine