ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – At the start of the novel coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said healthy people didn’t need masks for protection against transmission. But as cases continue to skyrocket – close to 6,000 in Georgia – the CDC is now reconsidering its guidelines.
Studies from the U.S. and China show that wearing a mask helps prevent asymptomatic carriers of the virus from transmitting it to others.
So, health experts have weighed in suggesting people wear masks in public places such as grocery stores and pharmacies to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
Most masks are designed for single-usage, since viruses don’t bounce off them, but get trapped inside. That’s why the CDC said it’s important to wash your hands before and after you apply a mask. Bending a mask, getting it wet – even moisture will degrade it.
So here’s what you need to know about face masks:
Elastic surgical masks
The CDC says the elastic surgical mask is the most suitable for re-use. Again, wash your hands before and after application. Washing you these masks is not recommended. But they can be stored by folding the outside facing in and placing the mask in a sealable paper bag or a breathable container.
N95 masks are the highest quality of mask, and should be reserved for medical workers who are exposed to high viral loads. The CDC said if you have unused N-95 masks, donate them to a hospital. Most of us don't need that type of protection. If you have an N95 mask, you’ll need ultraviolet light sterilizers to clean it, and refrain from using bleach or alcohol washes as it might degrade it.
You can use a homemade mask such as a scarf or a bandana. But the CDC recommends using enough fabric to cover the sides of your face to below your chin. Make sure to clean the mask between uses, so making several masks to rotate through is suggested. Homemade masks can be cleaned either by handwashing and letting air dry or using a washing machine.