Bask in the mask

Aug 3rd, 2020 | By | Category: Spotlight

Wear the mask. Please. For everyone’s sake.

Governor Jay Inslee and state Secretary of Health John Wiesman made that clear when they announced a mandatory face covering order for Washington.

The order, which took effect June 26, was in response to reports of COVID-19 cases increasing.

“As necessary economic activity increases and more people are out in their communities, it is imperative that we adopt further measures to protect all of us,” Inslee said. “Until a vaccine or cure is developed, this is going to be one of our best defenses.”

Every Washingtonian must wear a facial covering when in a public space, as mandated by the public health order signed by Wiesman. This includes indoor spaces as well as outdoor public spaces where individuals can’t maintain social distancing.

On July 7, businesses were given authority to receive service to non-masked customers.

Keeping your face covered when venturing outside the home is a crucial weapon in the fight against the coronavirus, as recommended by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The science is clear that when we use face coverings, we limit the spread of droplets being passed on to others when we talk, cough or sneeze. While some of us are wearing face coverings in public, we must increase usage to best control the virus. Washington’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if, together, we act safely and follow health recommendations,” Wiesman said.

Along with the responsibility of wearing a mask comes some discomfort (especially in hot weather) and social problems. Organizations such as AARP and the American Speech-Language Hearing Association have advice for dealing with the inconveniences and doing what’s best of public health.

Fabric matters.

When it comes to being comfortable and avoiding being too warm or sweaty, a light, breathable material like cotton can keep your face cooler than medical and N95 masks made from synthetic materials, and can be effective in preventing contagion. AARP reports that researchers have found that all-cotton tests best for mask material, but up to 40 percent polyester will do the job.  Lighter, softer cotton coverings can also help you avoid chafing, heat rash or inflaming a skin condition like eczema or dermatitis, says Carrie Kovarik, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology’s COVID-19 task force.

Stay dry.

Cotton traps less air and moisture than standard medical and industrial masks, and it’s more absorbent, but if it gets damp due to breathing and sweating it can be less effective in filtering respiratory particles, not to mention uncomfortable and abrasive to the skin.

Jennifer Vanos, a biometeorologist at Arizona State University who studies the effects of heat on health, tells AARP, “Try to stay in well-ventilated locations to keep air and vapor mixing, which can help evaporate any extra water and also keep the rest of your body feeling cooler,”

More than one.

If your mask gets icky and sticky, swap it for another. On especially hot and humid days, pack multiple masks, Vanos says. And when changing masks, follow the other CDC safety recommendations when, such as avoiding crowds and washing or sanitizing your hands, AARP notes.

Graphics like this are part of efforts by state and local health and government officials to encourage the wearing of masks in the face of coronavirus.

Remember the hard of hearing.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is providing advice for people with and without hearing loss to help everyone communicate while their faces are covered.

Masks can make communication difficult, especially for the approximately 48 million Americans with hearing loss. This is because covering up can:

  • Muffle voices, making it more difficult to understand.
  • Take away a person’s ability to read lips and see facial expressions, which help people better understand what they’re hearing.
  • Be physically uncomfortable for people who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.

To remedy those problems, ASHA  suggests, among other things, using a mask with a clear panel over the mouth or using a clear face shield (when appropriate), talk a little louder (but don’t shout) and a little slower, use your hands and your body language, and ask if there’s anything you can do to make communication easier for the other person.

For people who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants, ASHA suggests securing your device with wig tape or other non-damaging material (such as a cloth headband, removing your mask in a safe place and checking it to make sure it’s working, and using a mask that has four string ties instead of ear loops.