COLUMN — Masks follow same rules as underwear
As we have witnessed, wearing facial coverings during this time of pandemic has done wonders for our communities. Area residents have, for the most part, joined together in the fight against the coronavirus by wearing masks in public indoor settings and mitigating further spread from person to person.
After talking with the district’s health director last week, it was apparent Virginia was doing rather well in terms of new virus cases compared to other states, but that encouraging downtrend can easily be jeopardized if we don’t double down on our efforts.
Something I realized is that we at The Herald have mentioned the importance of masks, but not done our due diligence in explaining how to properly wear them.
If you went out in public during the early stages of the pandemic, you likely noticed an influx of people wearing their masks with their noses sticking out. Those people had the right intentions but were not familiar enough with mask wearing to see what they were doing was ineffective. It was a simple mistake that many eventually learned would not protect them or others.
However, if you take a trip to your local supermarket nowadays you will probably notice several people, including a large handful of store employees, with their noses still poking out from their masks. Some pull their mask down each time they talk.
I don’t want to pretend that I am all-knowing when it comes to mask wearing, and I, like all of us, have slipped up and forgotten my mask until realizing halfway to the store doors. I also know that it is hard, very hard, to go through the entire day in a mask.
That being said, we need to make sure mask wearing isn’t just a show being put on. Effectiveness means proper use.
I saw a great visual online that I cannot credit myself with. It was a PSA recommending folks treat their face mask like their underwear. I thought it was brilliant, so I will share its points with you.
TREAT YOUR FACE MASK LIKE UNDERWEAR:
• Make sure it’s clean
• Make sure it fits snug but not too tight
• Make sure it covers the important parts
• Don’t touch or adjust it (especially in public)
• Don’t share it
• Throw it away if there are holes or stains
• Not always required, but definitely encouraged
If you use a reusable cloth face mask, make sure to wash the mask regularly, and always remove a mask by its strings/ear loops rather than grabbing it on the front. Face masks are also not a substitute for social distancing, so don’t treat them as an excuse to get closer to other people.
Children ages 2 or younger should not wear a face mask, and don’t put face masks on people with difficulty breathing. Some people who find it difficult to breathe in a face mask or need to have their mouth visible in order to communicate may benefit from looking into obtaining a clear plastic face shield that covers the entire face but is not tight around the sides.
Lastly, please remember that you are not wearing a face mask to simply protect yourself from the virus. Face masks help prevent you from giving the virus to others, and just because you feel fine doesn’t mean you don’t have it. If you care about your community, your family, our elderly and other vulnerable populations, wear a mask. If you can’t wear a mask, please stay home.
Alexa Massey is a staff reporter for The Charlotte Gazette and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Alexa.Massey@TheCharlotteGazette.com.