Are Cloth Masks Still Effective to Prevent COVID-19?
A cloth mask help to slow down the spread of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)
Face masks be it cloth or surgical, with other preventive measures like vaccination, frequent hand washing, sanitizing, and physical distancing helps in slowing down the spread of the virus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends fabric masks for people. Those who are not yet fully vaccinated need to continue to wear face masks outdoors and in indoor public places where there is a high risk of COVID-19 transmissions like large gatherings or events.
WHO i.e. the World Health Organization, recommends medical masks for health care workers and anyone suffering from COVID-19 or is taking care of someone with symptoms of COVID-19.
How cloth mask offer safety?
As per CDC, the spread of COVID-19 is mainly through respiratory droplets when someone who is infected talks, sneezes, or coughs. So if the non-infected person has a cloth mask on, it lessens the chances of transmission.
Cloth face covering is recommended in public areas where social distancing is challenging to maintain. But as per the note by CDC, “A cloth face covering may not protect the wearer but it may help to keep them away from spreading the virus to others.” By wearing a cloth covering in public, the spread of the virus can slow down by decreasing the chances of transmission to others.
Many people have also concluded that cloth masks are effective after the short supply of N95 and surgical masks. These masks must be reserved for the health care workers, while the cloth masks are easy to find and can be reused easily just by a quick wash. Cloth masks are helpful in areas of ‘significant community-based transmission”, and you must not touch them while you wear them. Remember to wash or sanitize your hands immediately after removing the mask.
Homemade masks reduce the spread
As per the recent study by Proceedings of the Royal Society, a scientific journal suggests that homemade masks can reduce the spread of COVID-19 if enough people wear them in public settings. The low-level technology i.e., homemade masks can help to reduce the severe global economic impact of COVID-19. The virus has the potential to shorten life expectancy because of the reduced standard of living.
One key message from the study on the widespread adoption of the face mask is that masks help in protecting everyone.
Homemade vs. commercial cloth masks
Public health officials recommend that people can craft their face masks if there is a shortage of them. Even though it is unclear how much protection a homemade mask will offer, studies suggest that a homemade mask is better than no protection.
You must consider homemade masks to be the last resort if you want to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection. The CDC has also released instructions on creating homemade masks. Even a simple cloth face-covering made at home can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Different types of cloth face masks
Here are different face masks and their effectiveness in containing droplet spread from sneezes, cough, and conversation.
Bandana is a square or triangular piece of cloth often worn as a neck or head covering. Tying a bandana over your mouth and nose has been part of keeping dust and other particles out of the respiratory system.
Bandanas provide some protection against cough and droplets or sneeze-related spray. Without any kind of mouth or nose covering, droplets can spray more than 8 feet.
Homemade cloth mask
A two-layer cotton mask filters out about 35% of small particles. They provide personal protection to the wearer. Cotton face masks can decrease droplet spray 8 feet 2½, which helps in reducing the amount of potentially virus-containing particles you release into the air.
There are many online tutorials available that can help you craft T-shirt masks. These are easy and cheap to make, but they are not the most effective. T-shirt masks are one-third as effective as disposable surgical masks.
The upside of T-shirt masks is that they are comfortable as they are slightly stretchy material conforms to the face. You can also increase the effectiveness of a T-shirt mask by using more than one layer of materials.
Store-bought cloth mask
The effectiveness of the store-bought cloth mask helps to depend on its construction. If you are purchasing the mask from the store, you must look for the one with three layers of fabric so, try for a mask constructed from a tight-weave 100% cotton cloth.
Cloth masks with filter
Some store-bought masks have filter pockets, and even you can make masks with a pocket for the filter. You can use folded facial tissues as a filter and simply slip the tissue into the filter pocket. You can keep changing the filter daily.
Balaclavas and Neck gaiters
Outdoors enthusiasts have neck gaiters or balaclavas on hand. These can be used for nose and mouth coverings and may protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Wear face masks even if it is a cloth one. It can still protect you and prevent you from getting COVID-19 than not wearing it at all. The above details in the blog prove that cloth face masks are ineffective at protecting against the spread of COVID-19.
However, it is not wrong to say that they are less effective, but on the other hand, they also offer a bit of protection. You can wear them to protect yourself from viruses and help to limit the spread in public settings.
If you want to know more about masks or want more information regarding the COVID-19 situation, stay tuned to the Wise Rx Discount Card blog.