Coronavirus 2020 > Coronavirus 6: What about homemade masks?

Coronavirus 6: What about masks?

Because of the mask shortages, people are making or buying their own cloth masks, or even using bandit-style bandanas.  Cloth masks are probably sufficient for the general public, whose exposure is low.

“Surgical” style masks are probably more effective, if they fit closely.  Unfortunately, some people cut “breathing holes” or slits; or they may cover their mouth but not their nose.  Obviously, this renders the mask much less effective.

Some manufactured filter-style masks have a one-way valve that allows exhaled air to escape easily, for comfort.  These were originally designed to protect the wearer against dust.  But they do not protect others from germs you might be carrying!

Many commercial masks are made in China, and standards vary.  Even masks marked “KN-95” (supposedly the Chinese equivalent of the N-95 standard) may not offer as much protection as promised.  The FDA has banned many Chinese manufacturers from importing “KN-95” masks until their efficacy can be tested in the US, since many Chinese masks have failed FDA testing.  On the other hand, "surgical" style masks may give better protection than ill-fitting cloth masks made of loose material.

In our office, we want to protect you, and protect ourselves.  So our staff uses only N-95 masks (or similar) while seeing patients.

Remember that masks are not just to protect you from contagion, but also to protect others from catching something from you!  Wearing a mask is a public courtesy, even if you don’t feel sick yourself.


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