• Christine Mann

Before You Put On That Mask

Before You Put On That Mask

I get it. You want to do anything you can to prevent the spread of this virus to you and your loved ones.

But before you put it on, PLEASE keep the following in mind:

1. Most importantly, wearing a mask does not in any way substitute for staying home. Staying home is BY FAR the best thing you can do to slow the spread of the virus. Do not think that you can now do non-essential activities because you are wearing a mask. Stay home.

2. There is no evidence that “mask-wearing countries” have lower rates of spread because of mask wearing. The countries that socially wear masks also instituted robust testing and isolation protocols, as well as widespread adherence to stay at home directives. Some even instituted government surveillance of infected individuals through use of GPS devices to track and monitor their movements.

3. Remember that the masks that you will be using let in (and out) between 60 and 97% of viral particles, depending on the mask you are using. They are not sealed around the edges and their filtering capability is variable. I get that something is better than nothing, but don’t let that give you a false sense of security.

4. The virus can enter and infect you through your eyes. Healthcare workers are using googles and/or face shields because of this.

5. The virus can linger in your hair. Respiratory droplets from people breathing, coughing, and sneezing can land in your hair and you can infect yourself from there when you touch your hair then face. Healthcare workers wear head covers when working with potentially infected patients because of this.

6. Your mask loses effectiveness as it gathers moisture from your breathing inside it. It should not be worn for extended periods of time.

7. Your mask becomes contaminated when it is exposed to the virus. When you take it off, do it outside or in your garage, grasping it with one finger by the ear straps and put it in the trash. Immediately do thorough hand washing or sanitizing. Cloth masks should be washed. We don’t know yet how long viral particles can live in the nooks and crannies of cloth masks.

8. Masks are meant to protect other people from you, not you from other people. Mask wearing works best if sick people have them on.

9. Consider the social consequences and harm to communities of color when they wear masks. Do not socially shame them if they make a different decision than you. H/t to Kenneth Witherspoon and Heather Snaman Frech for pointing this out.

10. Lastly, and I cannot emphasize this enough: STAY HOME and don’t let mask wearing be an excuse for resuming activities that put you near other people.

Much love and stay safe, y’all.


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