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Drew: Selecting the safest mask for you and your family

By Samuetta Hill Drew

With more job sites, stores and school districts requiring masks, it is essential you understand how to select the best mask for you and your family. Wearing the proper mask during the pandemic adds to your protection against COVID-19 and its different mutations.

National and local news show us daily how the COVID-19 mutation known as the Delta variant is negatively impacting our hospitals, especially their intensive care units (ICU), hospital staff, emergency room admissions, ambulance staff, worksites, as well as schools.

As scientists and the medical community continue to research COVID-19 and all its different mutations, it is important that you continue to practice safety measures proven to help protect you and your family from contracting COVID-19. We know, based upon current scientific and medical findings that getting vaccinated helps protect you, but now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals wear masks indoors, at large gatherings or gatherings where social distancing is difficult.

There are many different types of masks you can use to help protect yourself and others from getting and spreading COVID-19. When selecting a mask, choose one that fits snugly to help with optimum protection. Let’s review the different types of masks and what to look for in each based upon CDC recommendations:

–Cloth masks can be made from a variety of fabrics and many types of cloth are now available from the very plain to the very ornate. Look for those with multiple layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric, nose wire and ones that block light when held up to a bright light source. Do NOT wear masks with exhalation valves or vents as well as those with single layer, vinyl, or masks of thin fabric that do not block light. Select ones made for children to help ensure proper fit. A cloth mask can be combined with a fitter or brace.

–Disposable masks are widely available. Look for ones with a description indicating multiple layers of non-woven material. Select those with nose wire. Do NOT wear masks with gaps around the sides of the face or nose or those wet and/or dirty. Disposable masks can be worn underneath a cloth mask for extra protection.

–Shields seemingly are very popular with some. Currently the CDC does not recommend face shields because of the ongoing evaluation of their effectiveness.

To help Keep an Eye on Safety make sure you and your family’s mask fit snugly over the nose and mouth and underneath the chin and that there are no gaps around the side regardless of the mask material. If facial hair like a beard or mustache makes a proper fit difficult, consider shaving or trimming your hair closer to your face. Also remember children younger than 2 years of age should NOT wear a mask. Let us help in the fight against COVID-19 by wearing a mask.