WHERE TO BUY THE MOST COMFORTABLE FACE MASKS - WITH AND WITHOUT STRAPS
Summer is here and the temperatures are soaring. At the same time, many people are opting to wear face masks to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
So how do you handle both – high temperatures and face coverings? The best thing you can do is find the most comfortable and coolest face masks available.
To mask or not to mask?
For the past few months, public health officials have been unyielding in their stance that healthy people should not wear masks as a way to protect themselves from coronavirus.
But with new information about how the virus is spread — potentially through the air and by people with no symptoms — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday recommended that everyone wear nonmedical face coverings in public settings. President Trump said the guidelines were voluntary, leaving the decision about wearing masks up to individuals. Top health officials, including Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, warned that masks should not replace social distancing and hand washing.
While longtime advocates for mask wearing applaud the shift, they said it should also include a plan for providing masks to the public. For now, commercially made masks are virtually impossible to find. Many people have hoarded masks in recent months, and everyone agrees that any available supply of medical masks should be reserved for hospitals and emergency workers. That means if you want a mask, you probably have to make it yourself.
“We have a $3 trillion stimulus package and a mask costs very little — they should be free,” said Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University.
Last week, the German Medical Association suggested that citizens find or make a simple fabric mask when out in public and leave medical-grade masks for front-line workers. In Austria, grocery store shoppers are now required to wear masks. In New York City, officials advised residents to shield their faces with a scarf, bandanna or other covering when leaving their homes.
“Cover your face with cloth — however you want to do that,” said Shan Soe-Lin, a lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs who was a co-author of a widely shared article about the need to cover your face. “Cover your face pretty thoroughly from your mouth to your nose to prevent large aerosol droplets coming out or going in.”
Dr. Soe-Lin said she didn’t understand why public health officials have been so reluctant to recommend nonmedical fabric masks for the public. Even if they aren’t as protective as a medical mask, they are better than nothing, she said.
“We are in the upswing of a pandemic,” Dr. Soe-Lin said. “These cloth masks are protective. It’s a really important complement to the social-distance and hand-washing instructions.”
Experts say it’s important for people to understand that a simple face covering offers enough protection for someone who is practicing social distancing and has only limited exposure to others during brief time outside for exercise or groceries.
The highest-quality, most expensive medical masks — called N95 respirator masks — should be reserved for hospital workers and emergency responders who are regularly exposed to high viral loads from infected patients, both from frequent contact as well as medical procedures that can spew tiny viral particles into air.
“The potential for exposure is so much lower in a grocery store compared to working in a hospital close to patients,” said Linsey Marr, a Virginia Tech scientist and an expert in the transmission of viruses in the air.
If you’re not a health care worker and you have a stash of N95 masks or standard surgical masks, consider donating it to a hospital.
If you’re staying home and nobody in your family is infected, you don’t need a mask most of the time. Studies of mask use to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, including SARS, another form of coronavirus, show a simple mask can lower risk of infection. The effect is greatest when masks are used along with hand hygiene and social distancing.
“I think the vast amount of data would suggest that the coronavirus is an airborne infection carried by respiratory droplets, and it also can be passed on by direct contact,” said Dr. Mukherjee, who recently wrote an article about how the coronavirus behaves inside patients. “The mask works two ways — not only to protect you from me, but me from you.”
Frequently Asked Questions and Advice
Updated June 24, 2020
What’s the best material for a mask?
Scientists around the country have tried to identify everyday materials that do a good job of filtering microscopic particles. In recent tests, HEPA furnace filters scored high, as did vacuum cleaner bags, fabric similar to flannel pajamas and those of 600-count pillowcases. Other materials tested included layered coffee filters and scarves and bandannas. These scored lower, but still captured a small percentage of particles.
Is it harder to exercise while wearing a mask?
A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise “comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort” and requires “balancing benefits versus possible adverse events.” Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. “In my personal experience,” he says, “heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask.” Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.
I’ve heard about a treatment called dexamethasone. Does it work?
The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.
What is pandemic paid leave?
The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?
So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.
What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?
Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.
How does blood type influence coronavirus?
A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.
How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?
The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.
How can I protect myself while flying?
If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)
What should I do if I feel sick?
If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
If you decide to start wearing a mask, you should know that it takes some getting used to. A mask can be hot and uncomfortable and fog your glasses if you wear them. But pulling it up and down defeats the purpose of wearing it.
While we don’t have a lot of research on the effectiveness of homemade masks in preventing the spread of infection, scientists who study airborne diseases can offer some guidance. A mask sewn from a pattern or an improvised face covering made with a T-shirt probably offers some protection. The thicker the fabric, the better: think heavy cotton T-shirt or a thick, felt-like fabric, said Dr. Marr, the Virginia Tech aerosol scientist.
While some people have suggested using a bandanna, the fabric is typically so thin and flimsy that it would likely offer little protection. Double or triple the bandanna fabric if that’s all you have.
“I’ve been saying some protection is better than none,” said Dr. Marr, who noted that local health departments had been asking aerosol scientists for guidance on potential mask materials to deal with supply shortages. She said her team would have results soon with more specific recommendations for materials to use in masks.
Dr. Soe-Lin said she believed an added benefit of a mask was that it serves as a constant reminder against touching your face, a major way that the virus is spread. But no face covering, whether it’s homemade or a medical mask, makes you invincible. Pulling a mask on and off or fidgeting with it will lessen its effectiveness. And in theory, fiddling with your mask could contaminate it. Always remove a mask by the ear loops or the tie — never the part that covers your face.
Dr. Soe-Lin said she had used cloth masks for three weeks and washed and dried them regularly. Someone with only one mask can hand wash at night and let it air dry. If a mask gets wet or damp while you are wearing it, it’s less effective, she said.
Other experts said worries that fabric masks won’t offer enough protection were misguided.
“I don’t think there is any evidence that this is going to make things worse, but there is evidence that it provides some additional good,” said Robert Hecht, professor at the Yale School of Public Health, who was the co-author of the face mask article with Dr. Soe-Lin. “Under this emergency situation we’re in, it seems, in our view, hard to argue against covering your face. We have large numbers of infections occurring which don’t need to happen if people were to use the masks.”