Which Face Mask Really Stops Corona Virus?

Though the risk of catching Corona (COVID 19) virus in the U.S. is currently low, should you invest in face masks?  The virus is mainly transmitted through breathing in respiratory micro droplets of infected persons.  Which masks will stop it?

Surgical masks?  These are the disposable, flexible paper type, often blue.  Since they don’t form a tight seal around the edges, you’ll still be able to breathe in micro droplets.  On the plus side they are comfortable, so people are more likely to wear them longer.  So if you are spending time with a family member who is sick, these will protect against larger droplets or splashes.  It is better than nothing, but you’d need to wear it at all times around the sick person, dispose of them frequently, and avoid touching the front of the mask.  Wash your hands after removing or disposing of them.

Cloth Masks?  Popular in Asia, there is no evidence that cloth masks work.  Furthermore, because of infrequent washing, plus their tendency to retain moisture, cloth masks can become a breeding ground for pathogens.

N95 Respirators?  This is the heavy duty (but disposable) type that health workers are required to wear when treating patients with the COVID-19 virus.  If fitted correctly, this forms a tight seal and prevents micro droplets from passing through.  But it’s the least comfortable and makes breathing harder. Nobody wants to wear this for long periods of time.  And again, if the wearer touches the front of it, pathogens can then cling to fingers and be re-deposited onto surfaces which they’ll touch later, by accident.

Wearing them in public: Experts feel the value is very limited.  A face mask may have some benefit if it prevents you from touching your face and nose.  The problem is that, because any mask can be uncomfortable, you’ll probably touch your masked face more often than you otherwise would—and any pathogen which attached itself to the outside of the mask would be on your fingers now.

The Best Practices: A. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, B. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth (use a clean tissue unless hands are freshly washed), C. Stay home when you are sick, and D. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

For more details, read Maria Godoy’s full article at this link: