While COVID-19 continues to spread across Arizona, the issue of whether or not to wear a mask remains a point of debate. Some argue it does nothing to kill the virus. Some say a mask compromises their personal freedom. Others assert they are stronger than any virus bug. While others suggest they don’t know what to believe, that the recommendations keep changing.

That’s the thing about this pandemic. It is called novel coronavirus (COVID-19) because it’s new to humans. Scientists are learning more about the virus every day. Which is why official guidelines aimed at keeping everyone safe continue to evolve.

So what if we all agreed to wear a mask in attempt to protect each other, just in case? According to the most recent information from the CDC, that’s what a mask really does. By mitigating the spray—the aerosol that dispenses the virus outward from me to you, you to me—a mask helps to protect us both. How can that not be a good thing when people are dying?

As the CDC puts it, “Cloth face coverings are a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks or raises their voice. This is called source control.” As illustrated in this video:

 

The CDC now recommends wearing a cloth face mask in public settings, especially when it is difficult to maintain a social distance of at least six feet.

Looking out for others

Wearing a face covering sends a visual signal that you care about others in your community. It makes an important statement. Even if you don’t think you carry the virus, you may be a source and not know it. More people are turning up asymptomatic—with no symptoms at all. COVID-19 continues to demonstrate it’s not easy to anticipate or regulate.

Consider this from the Arizona Department of Health Services: “As COVID-19 continues to spread in the United States and in Arizona, we advise all residents to wear a cloth face covering when in public regardless of whether you feel sick or not. Studies continue to be published showing how COVID-19 can be spread through speaking, coughing, sneezing—including by people who don’t even know they’re sick.”

With the long holiday weekend before us and people visiting from outside the area, YRMC joins other healthcare organizations across the country in asking everyone to please don a mask whenever you leave home.

As a reminder, on June 29 Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued the following for a period of no less than 30 days in attempt to stymie COVID in our state: he suspended large gatherings; ceased the issuance of new special event licenses; paused the operations of bars, gyms, movie theaters, waterparks and tubing rentals; and delayed the restart of schools.

Taking preventative measures

The CDC recommends the following when using a face covering:

  • Fit the mask snugly to your face.
  • Secure the mask with ties or earloops.
  • Use a mask with multiple layers when possible.
  • Machine wash and dry your mask routinely.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing your mask.
  • Wash your hands immediately after removing the mask.

Do not use cloth face coverings on children under 2 years old or people who have trouble breathing.

Remember, along with wearing a mask, please continue to:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Maintain a minimum of six feet between yourself and others when outside the home.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • Monitor your health and be alert for symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath.