Disposable masks. Photography by: Sofia Clark
Disposable masks. Photography by: Sofia Clark

The Importance of Wearing Masks Properly

December 8, 2021

Ever since most COVID restrictions in the United States were first lifted around June of 2020, a combative approach was taken to ensure that the population stays safe from getting and spreading the COVID-19 virus. Wearing a mask and wearing one properly, over the mouth and nose, is a precaution recommended by the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) agency to prevent the spread of the virus and other illnesses. When anyone talks, breathes, sneezes or coughs, without proper protection over their mouth and nose, they are risking respiratory droplets infecting other people’s immune systems. 

Health professionals describe some of the symptoms of the COVID-19 virus to those of a common cold, which can result in dangerous confusion. It is not uncommon for both asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic infected people to not be aware that their “flu” is actually a very contagious virus with potentially grim consequences. Sneezing or having a sore throat is not the extent of the virus; a large number of people end up hospitalized or put on ventilators, not to mention COVID-19 has resulted in mass fatalities.

After a case study conducted in Thailand, it was documented that those who claimed to wear a mask most often had nearly a 70% reduced risk of getting an infection. Masks offer a form of filtration that prevents any sort of contagious respiratory droplets from invading someone else’s body, especially in high-exposure environments. 

“Fourteen of the 15 states with no mask-wearing [policies] for the general public through September reported a high COVID-19 rate,” said Charlie Fischer of Plos One, regarding statistics about mask adherence. “Of the 8 states with at least 75% mask adherence, none reported a high COVID-19 rate.”

Business Wire affirms that only a little over half of Americans, ages 18 to 23, claim to always wear masks in public places. It was also said that mask-wearing frequency was most high among people ages sixty-five and older. The higher rates of mask-wearing among elders is likely due to the fact that COVID-19 is most likely to have critical effects on people of older ages due to their respiratory systems being significantly weaker than those of younger people. Taking precautionary measures in the form of mask-wearing is a strong approach to combat the dangers of the virus. 

When entering public places such as stores or restaurants, the clientele is now most likely not be required to wear masks depending on the state they are in, but the CDC recommends that employees continue to wear masks while working. Customers are not required to have face-coverings and are often excused from wearing one altogether if they have received their full COVID vaccine (announced May 13th, 2021 that those who are fully vaccinated are exempt from wearing a mask in almost all public settings). It is uncommon for stores or restaurants to mandate mask-wearing for customers or ask for proof of vaccination; as long as COVID-19 statistics stay the same, this most likely will not change. 

The cost of face-coverings is not the main deterrent for people to avoid wearing masks either. Prices for large packs of masks are not too costly; a box of fifty disposable masks on Amazon is $10.99. Most public shops or restaurants offer free disposable masks for those who ask, and prefer for customers to wear one when around other people. Washable, reusable masks are always available in a variety of sizes online and in stores. Cloth masks have grown in popularity as well, especially for people who tend to wear masks often, since the reusable aspect saves money that would potentially be spent replenishing disposable paper masks. Handmade cloth masks of different patterns, designs, and colors can be found on websites like Etsy and Redbubble if the style is something of interest. 

As this virus continues to stick around, the CDC makes it exceedingly clear that wearing masks and wearing them properly is a fundamental method to keeping oneself and others safe from contracting the COVID-19 virus. 

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