With the novel coronavirus still presenting a significant threat against U.S. citizens and the start of flu season coming around the corner, it’s crucial for people to continue wearing masks. Wearing masks is essential for protecting people around you from yourself. When everyone wears a face mask, we are all working together to protect one another.
But when it comes to finding a face mask, are some masks more effective than others? The short answer is yes. Cloth masks with loops are more effective than bandanas while N95 respirators are considered the most effective face coverings because they filter out at least 95% airborne particles. In our latest article, we are ranking the most common face masks we have seen people wearing based on their effectiveness.
Why You Need to Wear a Face Mask
Wearing a face mask will not only protect your loved ones, but it will help the country as a whole flatten the curve
Several studies have found that wearing a face mask can help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Numerous cities that started to require citizens to wear face masks in public also found that the COVID-19 growth rate significantly slowed down. This is because the face masks are built to block droplets emitted from the mouth that could potentially contain the virus. Wearing a face mask protects others against yourself. In turn, people who wear face masks around you are also offering you protection.
Best Face Masks for Combating the Coronavirus
Get Go ranks the most common face masks you see nowadays in order of effectiveness
Not all face masks are built the same. When it comes to choosing a face mask, you want to choose one that is actually effective. That’s why we’re evaluating some of the most common face coverings we have seen people wear. Before purchasing some of these items, make sure you do your research on them to make sure they can properly prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
1. N95 Respirators
A N95 respirator technically isn’t a mask. As a respirator, the N95 filters out at least 95% of airborne particles. Unlike other masks, it is designed to protect both the user and those around them. Some N95 respirators feature valves, making them easier to breathe in. Out of the rest of the face coverings on this list, N95 respirators are the most effective for protecting people against the spread of the coronavirus.
Medical personnel tasked with taking care of coronavirus patients typically wear N95 respirators. However, these respirators are not recommended for public use. Most people do not know how to properly put on and replace N95 respirators. Some hospitals are still in short supplies of these respirators. Therefore, the general public is encouraged to wear cloth face masks instead.
2. Cloth Face Masks
Cloth face masks can be extremely effective in filtrating small, airborne particles. If you are making your own cloth face mask or purchasing some extra masks, you should obtain one made of a double cotton layer. Make sure the cotton has a thread count of at least 180. Masks made of light cotton were found to be less effective than thick, high-thread cotton masks.
You should also make sure your cloth face mask contains ear loops. This makes it easier to place your mask on your face and take it off without touching the cloth.
3. Surgical Face Masks
When worn correctly, a surgical face mask can protect someone against large-particle droplets containing bacteria or viruses. They can also protect people around the wearer from their respiratory secretions. However, surgical face masks are not designed to block tiny particles found in the air. Because of their loose fit, surgical masks may not offer complete protection from germs and other contaminants. They must also be discarded after one use.
4. Cone-Style Masks
You might have seen some people sporting cone-style masks that fit over the mouth and nose. At the top, you will find a metal strip to help the mask fit closely to the nose. While these masks are more effective than bandanas and gaiters, they are still less effective than cloth masks.
5. Face Shields with Masks
Essential workers have started wearing face shields. When worn alone, they are not effective in combating the spread of the coronavirus. This is because they do not fit closely around the nose or mouth to effectively trap the air particles that wearers expel from their mouths. However, they can provide additional protection against the virus when worn with a face mask.
6. Bandanas or Neck Gaiters
While wearing a bandana or neck gaiter is better than not wearing any covering on your face, they are some of the least effective tools for protecting yourself or others near you. Not only do they not offer any ear loops for placing them and removing them, but they tend to be made of thin materials. They can also end up being loose fitting, making it easier for air particles to escape.
If you are a regular citizen who isn’t taking care of anyone with coronavirus, wearing a cloth face mask is your best bet. While N95 respirators and surgical face masks can also be effective, they should be reserved for healthcare personnel.
Common Misconceptions and Confusions Over Wearing Face Masks
It’s time to clear up the misinformation out there surrounding face masks
Unfortunately, there are a number of myths surrounding the practice of wearing face masks. Here are some of the most popular ones that have been circulating around.
1. Cloth masks don’t actually work
Some people believe that cloth masks will do little to protect you. In actuality, cloth masks create a firm barrier between your face and your surroundings. This barrier guards others against droplets that emit from your mouth through talking, sneezing, or coughing.
2. Wearing a mask will cause carbon dioxide (CO2) to build up
The myth that masks can cause CO2 to build up around you has also been spreading around. People believe that this build-up will then cause you to become sick. However, properly fitting masks will allow enough airflow for you to breathe comfortably, thus making it impossible to accumulate CO2. That being said, children under 2, people with breathing problems, and those who are unable to remove a mask on their own are advised against wearing one.
3. Wearing a mask eliminates the need to practice social distancing
Wearing a mask is crucial for combating the spread of COVID-19. In order to further reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, you should practice social distancing in addition to wearing a mask. You also need to remember to regularly wash your hands with soap and water and stay home if you start to experience symptoms of COVID-19.
4. You don’t have to wear a mask outside
In general, being outside is safer than being inside. But if you are around other people, you should still wear a mask. In fact, some cities require you to wear a mask while outside. So if you’re planning on dining out at a restaurant or taking a walk with some friends, you should still wear a mask.
Why Health Officials Changed Their Original Stance on Face Masks
The practice of wearing face masks still stirs some controversy among citizens in this country. For one thing, face masks weren’t really integrated in Western culture until the start of the pandemic. Unlike Asian countries like Japan or China, we simply weren’t used to wearing face masks, even during flu season.
At the beginning of the pandemic, experts warned people against wearing masks. This was because hospitals were struggling with a shortage of N95 respirators and face masks. Then, healthcare officials stated that only people who exhibited symptoms of the coronavirus needed to wear masks. Since then, we have discovered that some people who have been infected with the coronavirus do not exhibit any symptoms. To keep everyone safe, healthcare professionals now advise everyone to wear face masks in public and to also keep at least a six foot distance from others.
We all want life to get back to normal. To spend time with our friends. To get back to work. To do small things like attend concerts and watch the latest blockbuster in theaters again. And the last thing we want is the country to shut down again. But until then, we need to help flatten the curve by following the guidelines set in place by experts. Part of this process involves wearing a mask. So before you head out to the grocery store or stop by your favorite fast food place, don’t forget to bring your mask!