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How Effective Are Cloth Masks in Protecting Us From COVID-19?


By Amanda Butler RN, BS

Are cloth masks effective in slowing the spread of coronavirus? The answer is yes, they can be used as a measure to slow down the spread of coronavirus. In order to reduce the spread of Coronavirus this preventative measure would require everyone’s participation. It is important for one to understand that Cloth masks do not protect the person wearing it from an individual who is not wearing one. Therefore, if you are in a supermarket wearing a cloth mask, and an individual who is positive for coronavirus comes with in 6 feet you would be susceptible to those droplets containing the infectious pathogen. However, if the person who is positive for coronavirus is wearing a cloth mask and you are wearing a cloth mask there is a less likely risk of exposure.


Barriers to this strategy would include CDC’s recommendation not to place masks on children under 2 or individuals with respiratory complications. On April 15, Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania Ordered Businesses to follow these preventative measures: “Require all customers to wear masks while on premises, and deny entry to individuals not wearing masks, unless the business is providing medication, medical supplies, or food, in which case the business must provide alternative methods of pick-up or delivery of goods, except individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children the age of 2 years) may enter the premises without having to provide medical documentation.”. These measures are to go into effect on April 19th at 8:00pm in an effort to slow the spread of the infection utilizing mask. The CDC’s website has provided guidelines on how to create a mask at home using household materials. Meanwhile transportation companies like Septa are strongly encouraging the use of mask for anyone riding public transportation but are not enforcing it at this time.

References:


Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings, Especially in Areas of Significant Community-Based Transmission. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html#studies


Governor Tom Wolf (2020) Gov. Wolf: Health Secretary Signs Order Providing Worker Safety Measures to Combat COVID-19. Retrieved from https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/gov-wolf-health-secretary-signs-order-providing-worker-safety-measures-to-combat-covid-19/

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