COLORADO SPRINGS — When it comes to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, it looks like mask-wearing is going to be a reality for a long time to come. Hopefully, you understand the importance of wearing a mask to reduce the spread of the virus, and if you wear a mask let's make sure you're doing it correctly, beginning with a very important step you may be leaving out.
Mark Mayes is the associate chief nursing officer at UCHealth Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs.
Mark says, “You want to make sure you do hand hygiene before you touch your mask. Hand hygiene can be washing your hands with soap and water or it can be using an alcohol-based hand product. When you go to put your mask on after you do the hand hygiene, grab it by the loops instead of grabbing it by the front panel. When you go to take your mask off, do hand hygiene first, and then grab it by the loops again and pull it off. That way you're not touching the front of the mask where you’re breathing and where you may have particulates or droplets on the mask.”
Next, Mark says make sure your mask is covering both your mouth and your nose. “It's very important that when you're wearing a mask you're wearing it over your face and not below the nose. That doesn't really help (reduce virus spread) if it's below your nose; you can still get droplets out of your nose.”
Finally, if it's a disposable mask how often should you throw it out, and if it's a cloth mask, how often should you wash it? Mark says, “Wash it after every use if it's a cloth mask and dispose of it after every use if it's a disposable paper mask.”
If we're going to go to the trouble of wearing a mask, let's make the most of it because doing it correctly can be the difference between sparing someone else being exposed to COVID-19, or potentially sharing it with them.
Mark says, “When you're wearing a mask in public not only are you protecting yourself but you're really protecting others who may be more high-risk than you. If you're a young and healthy person and you really don't see the reason to wear a mask, or you're not at risk for COVID-19 transmission - you may be an asymptomatic carrier and you may be introducing droplets into the environment at the grocery store or other places that somebody else who may be a high-risk person could come in contact with, so it's about protecting you and the community”
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