How effective is my mask against COVID-19?

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Utah (ABC4 News) –As the coronavirus pandemic forecast continues throughout the United States, mask mandates and mask-wearing, in general, continue to be addressed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, everyone should wear a mask over their nose and mouth when in any public area to eliminate the spread of COVID-19.

Coronavirus is spread by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Wearing a mask helps prevent these droplets from spreading.

Cloth, surgical, N95 or homemade, the CDC recommends that you wear one in public settings around people who don’t live in your household and when you can’t stay 6 feet away from others. Masks help stop the spread of COVID-19.

woman wearing face covering, with a detail showing how the cloth barrier helps to contain respiratory droplets that she exhales
Courtesy: CDC

How do I know if my mask is effective?

According to the CDC, masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people. COVID-19 spreads mainly among people in close contact with one another, usually within about 6 feet.

If you are worried about the effectiveness of your mask, according to ScienceAlert, a simple way to check is to attempt to blow out a candle while wearing your mask. If you can blow the flame out it’s likely your mask won’t adequately stop the spread of COVID-19.

What masks aren’t effective?

The CDC reminds us that masks with exhalation vents do not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others. The CDC does not recommend using these masks for source control if they have an exhalation valve or vent.

You might have seen many people wearing face shields when in public places. The CDC says at this time; there is not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields; therefore, the CDC does not currently recommend the use of face shields as a substitute for masks.

While it’s impossible to say what will happen in the coming months, the CDC said they believe it’s likely that the coronavirus will continue to spread.

CDC officials say wearing a mask is one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus. “We are not defenseless against COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield.

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