‘Source control’ is the primary concern with any type of illness or virus that could potentially pass from one person to another. The idea is to contain it, so that doesn’t happen by whatever means and the best means for those at risk. In America’s current health environment, there have been many methods imposed to stop a virus that has made its way throughout the country; in fact, the world.

With something that is virtually a mystery, containing it can be challenging. Stopping it has yet to happen. But with what is known, a simplistic barrier has the potential to assist in preventing ‘respiratory droplets’ passing openly into the exposed air to surrounding people when there is a sneeze, cough, speaking, shouting, or any other possible transmission.

At this point in time, the recommendations have come down to a simple cloth face mask that reduces sprays of droplets claimed to be a key component in spreading the virus. These can only be effective for those who educate on the proper materials, the fit, how to wear them, and the washing requirements. And they are particularly vital in spaces where social distancing from other people of more than 6 feet (1.83 m) is not possible.

The Fundamentals Of Cloth Face Masks

In a vast market throughout the United States are wholesale masks easily accessible to anyone who needs one. These are a critical component in the prevention of the further spread of illness throughout the country.

Other measures need to be employed for people who are not capable of using the ‘device’ or don’t have access to one. These include maintaining safe distancing from other people by as much or more than 6 feet (1.83 m), hand washing regularly, and continuous disinfection of surfaces that you touch. People excluded from wearing these include:

  • Small children of two years or younger.
  • Any person with difficulty breathing.
  • Any person deemed incapacitated, unconscious, or that would otherwise identify as incapable of removing the covering without help.

Wearing these are not always easy or impossible for some people, for which the CDC is aware. There are mental and physical conditions where this kind of covering may create a worsening of symptoms that create safety concerns. Some of those situations where alternatives need to be sought include:

  • Hearing Challenges: For those who are deaf or the people who interact with them, wearing a cloth over the mouth can impede their ability to read lips, creating a communication barrier. Using a clear face shield is one alternative to consider. Other options may need to be employed if these are not available due to the severe need for the barrier.

    Some options can include closed captioning, written communication, and decreasing background noise in an effort to communicate depending on the level of impairment to protect not only your health but also those around you.

  • Mental Health: It may be challenging to incorporate a mask into your routine if you suffer from specific challenges such as mental health disorders, intellectual or developmental disabilities, or other types of sensory conditions. In these cases, health care providers should be consulted for alternatives or directives concerning masks.
  • Small Children: The children of a younger age group, including preschoolers or early elementary school, might have a tough time keeping the cloth where it belongs, especially for any length of time. It is a judgment call for parents when kids will be exposed to the public and how close in proximity. Social distancing is crucial at least 6 feet (1.83 m).

    If that’s not possible, the mask will need to be worn, and children should be monitored while it’s on. When you can’t be there in a school setting, it’s especially important to find a piece that is an adequate size and fit for the child’s face. There should be proper guidance on the importance of keeping it over the nose and mouth and frequent reminders when it falls out of place, so it becomes a habit when away from home.

  • Keep It Dry:  No one should wear a face covering if there is any chance for the item to become wet as with activities at the swimming pool, lake, or beach. When these become moist or soaking, it can grow challenging to breathe. The suggestion is to ensure a safe distance from others when in the water, especially.

There is a small portion of the population recognized as incapable of wearing a mask. Still, in these cases, they are to find alternative forms of prevention as well as self-distance when not using a device, and follow the recommendations for handwashing and sanitizing.

Health experts feel the evidence suggests these products can help stop the spread of the disease. The more people who employ their use, the sooner improvements will be seen.

The Masks Used By The General Public

At this point, most people have received information regarding the types of masks the general public should be using. There may be some who envision a standard surgical mask, typically a looser-fitting, throw-away variety that doctors and other healthcare staff wear in hospital settings to protect against infectious conditions. These would not be appropriate for the average citizen.

In some instances, healthcare employees also employ what is known as ‘N95’ respirators. These provide full coverage from any respiratory infection. The devices are a much thicker piece compared to the surgical masks, each one specifically custom-made for the person wearing it so that it seals over their cheeks, nose, and around the chin with no exposure.

For the public not involved in a healthcare capacity, we are urged to wear a cloth version to ensure the surgical and N95 supplies remain prevalent for the workers who need them. If this mask is going to be effective, it must be worn properly and fit correctly. For questions commonly asked concerning masks go to https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2020/jun/6-questions-you-may-have-about-cloth-face-masks-answered/.

Wearing The Cotton Mask

There are guidelines for putting on the piece and taking it off in an effort not to infect yourself. You want to ensure your hands have been thoroughly cleaned before you pick up the cloth, so you’re not being exposed to germs. It’s also critical to look over the garment if there has been any damage such as holes or tears since the last use.

The piece needs to fit over your mouth and nose, stretching from slightly below the eyes to directly below the chin. On each side, you want to cover half of your cheeks. It would help if you had a piece that was comfortable with breathability, but it also should be snug with little exposure and minimal capability for falling.

There is some debate as to how the mask should be worn when out and about. Some say you can take it off while in your vehicle and when not in a public place. Others insist once you leave your home, it should remain on until you return. One thing that remains consistent is that you need to keep your hands away from it and your face, so logic would say to leave it on the entire time.

Suggestions indicate it’s a good idea even with the covering to maintain social distancing and the remaining precautions. When removing the mask, you should do so using the ear loops, not touching the front of the piece, and keep it at a distance from your face.

The (typically cotton) material needs washing each time it’s been worn, which can be done in a standard washing machine. But your hands should be clean when you remove it from the machine and store the garment properly. If it’s disposable, make sure to throw it in a sealed trash bin. Don’t leave used masks or gloves lying in a parking lot or on a sidewalk for someone else to pick up after you. Read for details on the disease and the cloth option’s role.

The History Of Wearing The Coverings

People today are having a hard time adapting to the use of the face mask, but the real question is, why did they ever go out of favor? Illnesses, viruses, even potentially unknown conditions surround us every day. We’re all continuously exposed to many often deadly diseases that we can easily pass from one person to the next with the congestion of our lives.

Nearly every 100 years for the last few centuries, there has been a deadly outbreak. In 1918 previous to this one, there are documented pictures of everyone fitted with their cloth coverings. They usually comprised a white gauze material that everyone was ordered to wear under the threat of repercussions, including fines or imprisonment.

As today, there were articles, instructables on proper fit/how to care for them/how to make them, countless, awful loss of lives. But slowly, people forgot and ‘got back to normal’.

‘Healthy’ people have never been advised to cover their faces when they’re out in public as a preventative measure to remain healthy. There has actually been contradictory advice given one way and then the other in that we shouldn’t, and then we should use them. The final word indicates we should follow the lead of other countries who have a little better handle on the situation by employing the use of coverings.

As of now, the idea is that perhaps the stigma needs to change regarding these pieces of cloth being merely for sick people in hopes that society will begin to accept them as a new ‘normal’ whether you’re a healthy person or not.

Final Word

Whether you agree with wearing these pieces of material over your face or not should have no basis on any type of political agenda. As a whole, as a world, as a country – people, families, individuals are becoming drastically ill. We, as members of society, don’t want to see people suffer, assuredly not. In particular, our own family, friends, neighbors, even people we interact with regularly as we go to the market.

Fear is a massive and destructive emotion. It hurts each person distinctly. Some choose to ignore it entirely in hopes it will disappear. Others want to face it defiantly. And then, some adjust and adapt. Those who are defiant spread their fear infecting everyone with it.

Fighting against the precautions needed to protect you from a disease will not prevent you from becoming ill. That’s the wrong approach to take in an effort to stay well. You’re putting yourself at higher risk along with children, grandparents, and soon-to-be moms when you blatantly refuse to place a mask on your face.

The material is merely a preventative health tool in the characteristic of going for a physical so that you don’t develop cardiovascular disease or to prevent from getting cancer or keep your cholesterol in check. The reasons for balking are unclear. These are unworthy to serve as statements of individualism but instead should designate a time for human beings to join together in compassion.