Eleven months after the COVID-19 crisis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines and findings on wearing a well-fitting mask to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Officials with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department reminded residents last week to wear a proper mask amid the ongoing pandemic.
“When you wear a mask, remember to wear it correctly,” County Public Health Director Van Do-Reynoso said Friday. “Use it when you are indoors or when you are around other people.”
Masks should be worn in addition to standing at least six feet apart and washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, according to the CDC.
In California, children under the age of 2 are exempt from face covering when away from home, as are people with a “medical condition, mental health condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering,” officials say. from the state Department of Public Health.
Wearing a mask remains a critical tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19, according to public health officials.
“Masks are very important and they won’t go away even with half the population vaccinated,” Dr. Henning Ansorg, the county’s public health officer, said recently in an interview with Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli.
“Schools are only safe when masks are worn and social distancing is maintained as much as possible, and then they are quite safe.”
Ansorg said that a mask is perhaps the most important health tool in the fight.
Last week, the CDC provided several tips to improve the mask’s defense against contagion and the spread of the coronavirus.
A sign posted outside Tino’s Italian Grocery, at 210 W. Carrillo St. Santa Barbara, warns shoppers that masks are required to enter. (Photo by Brooke Holland / Noozhawk)
“Masks work best when everyone wears them, but they don’t all provide the same protection,” the agency said.
The CDC emphasized making sure a mask “fits snugly” over the nose, mouth, and chin. He suggests wearing a mask with a nasal wire or metal strip across the top of the mask because it prevents air from escaping through the top.
Another recommendation is to wear a mask adjuster or brace over a disposable or cloth mask to prevent air from seeping around the edges.
“If the mask fits you, you will feel warm air coming through the front of the mask and you can see the mask material go in and out with each breath,” the CDC said.
Public health officials advised adding at least two layers of material to some masks, which prevents more respiratory droplets from entering a mask or escaping from a mask. Wearing one mask on top of the other includes a disposable mask under a cloth mask or wearing a cloth mask with multiple layers of cloth, according to the CDC.
“Make sure you can see and breathe easily,” the CDC advised.
According to the CDC, two disposable masks should not be placed one on top of the other, and only one KN95 mask should be worn at a time.
“Disposable masks are not designed to fit snugly, and wearing more than one will not improve fit,” the CDC said, adding that people should not apply a KN95 double mask with any other mask.
During the county’s weekly press conference on Friday, Ansorg spoke about the different mask options.
He said that an N95 mask, also called a N95 respirator, is designed for healthcare workers. It’s tight because the skins come in various sizes, he added.
In the first months of the crisis, N95 respirators and other personal protective equipment were in short supply, even in healthcare settings.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we had to ask everyone to refrain from trying to buy them because there was an international shortage, which has since been resolved,” Ansorg said.
“These masks are now available for purchase, but keep in mind that they need to fit snugly over the nose with a good seal so there is no air leak to provide optimal protection for the wearer.”
Procedure masks, also called surgical masks, which are usually bluish-white or white in color, have a metal strip over the nose for a better fit, and generally don’t slide down like looser cloth masks.
“They were designed to protect my environment from respiratory droplets from users,” Ansorg said. “For example, as a surgeon, you don’t want to contaminate the operating area.”
He continued, pointing to his own mask: “This is good for protecting my surroundings from my own respiratory droplets, however the protection it gives me from other virus carriers depends on how tight it fits.”
People often place a cloth mask on top of a procedural mask for a tighter fit.
“That I leave to you,” Ansorg said. “Sometimes it can be useful. Some people have been able to fold two of those masks and therefore fit better around the nose, cheeks and chin. “
The CDC recommended knotting the earmuffs of a medical procedure mask to make it more snug to your face. Take your mask and fold it from edge to edge (in half), then tie a knot in the two loop pieces of the mask, tucking and flattening the extra fabric under the edges.
These steps improve mask leakage by up to 20 percent, said Emily Sickbert-Bennett, director of infection prevention at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in a YouTube video explaining the recommendation.
(UNC Health Video)
The CDC urged people to wear masks whenever they are around other people.
Masks are now required for commuters on public transportation, according to the CDC. According to the edict, “people must wear masks that completely cover both the mouth and the nose while waiting, boarding, disembarking or traveling in planes, boats, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis and carpool while traveling to, or outside the United States and its territories. “
In California, the use of masks is required statewide and individuals must wear a face shield or mask when away from home, with limited exceptions. Click here for more information.
According to the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Assessments, surveys showed that about 75 percent of Californians always wore masks in public in August 2020, and that number has since risen to about 81 percent. .
When asked by Noozhawk how to properly remove a used mask, Ansorg replied, “It all depends on where you are.”
To remove a procedural mask, Ansorg grasped it only by the loops and stretched the loops.
“If you are at work or in a restaurant, I would recommend that you remove the mask without touching the actual area of the face because otherwise you will contaminate your hands,” he said. “Or when you leave it, it contaminates the surface.
“When you get in your car, alone and take off your mask, it’s not that big of a factor.”
He also emphasized the hygiene of the masks.
“We want to avoid touching the mask too much because some secretions, especially when you wear it for an hour more at a time, will seep through the material and there will be a little moisture on the outside potentially,” Ansorg said. . “And that could be contagious.”
Cloth masks should be washed “frequently at least once a day,” he said.
Click here for the CDC skin guide.