Where to Buy Coronavirus Face Masks and How to Make Them At Home
Can masks block the droplets from entering your nose or mouth? Yes, and no. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of masks, where to buy them, and how to make your own.
What’s the difference between N95, surgical, and cloth masks?
By now you’ve probably heard about N95 masks, which are also called respirators. They’re the ones in short supply in the healthcare industry. N95 masks fit tightly around the nose and mouth, blocking both incoming and outgoing germs. In other words, if your provider is wearing an N95 mask and sneezes, most of the droplets produced by the sneeze won’t escape. Conversely, if you sneeze, your provider’s N95 mask will block your droplets from entering their nose or mouth. N95 masks should only be used by healthcare professionals.
Surgical masks are looser-fitting than N95s and don’t have the respiratory valve. They’re FDA approved for medical settings, fluid resistant, and protect the wearer from large droplets. They’re disposable and meant to be discarded after each patient encounter. Surgical masks should also only be used by healthcare professionals.
Due to the mask shortages related to COVID-19, many healthcare workers are resorting to reusing their N95 and surgical masks, despite the risk this poses.
Cloth masks are what the general public should use to protect the community. This type of mask can help you stop the spread of the virus. Studies like this one published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that people infected with COVID-19 may not have symptoms. A cloth or homemade mask will help people who are sick but don’t know it from releasing droplets into the air and spreading the virus.
Wearing masks should not replace the CDC’s other safety measures. You should continue to stay at least 6 feet away from others in supermarkets and pharmacies and wash your hands frequently. You should wash your hands after taking off your mask, too.
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