The coronavirus has disrupted daily life across the world. From jobs to socializing and economies, it has put a halt to it all. One of the things people and health officials are most worried about is the rapid spread of the virus and the supply levels of necessary materials. And masks are a crucial part of preventing the spread.
If you’re like many of us affected by the disruption, your infrequent trips to the grocery store probably include looking for gloves, disinfectant products, and masks. The reason masks are so important is because of their ability to reduce the rate of transfer of COVID-19. However, masks are scarce these days. Manufacturers will need to increase production to meet up with the demand — especially for essential services like hospital workers.
What To Buy And What To Avoid
Certain masks excel at protecting you, and others are areas to avoid. Surgical face masks, like the ASTM-F2100 brand, are superior at preventing the spread of coronavirus and other respiratory infections and microbes. These have layers of protection and are the standard for many hospitals across the globe.
N95 respirator masks are also good to invest in. However, these can cause issues with those who won’t be able to adjust to the insulation the mask provides. It can be an area of caution since it can lead to suffocation.
These two types of masks are examples of available options if you’re an essential worker during this pandemic. But there are masks to avoid, too.
During this time, fear is the number one driving emotion for most people. This leads off-brand sellers to buy out masks and sell them at higher rates. Many of these may be counterfeits, too. Avoid masks that don’t cover your nose, mouth, and chin as well as masks that aren’t made from the same materials as surgical masks or N95 respirators.
Homemade masks can help but can also provide a false sense of protection in some cases if they aren’t made correctly. This is why manufacturers need to increase the rate of mask production — stores are sold out across the nation.
Production Of Masks
Certain factors make surgical masks superior to others. Part of how developers create and test them, and how they receive certifications. Since the coronavirus is a global concern, companies are looking into making masks with better protection than ever. These include rigorous certifications.
The best masks will need to properly pass tests for flammability, bacteria prevention, filtration, and pressure.
These certifications come from organizations like the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) or the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM). These organizations ensure that the public receives only the best types of masks.
Surgical masks, for instance, have multiple layers that can help protect while ensuring proper breathability. In the first layer, melt-blown polypropylene acts as a filter. Next, there is a layer of polypropylene cellulose or polyester that has a high density. And last, there are one or two layers of more melt-blown polypropylene that filter more microbes and bacteria.
Due to the increased need for masks, and moreover, high-quality masks, companies are working on more production as well as variations of masks that improve protection.
These masks would be similar to the ASTM-F2100 since the outer layer would be hydrophilic. This means that the masks could easily dissolve liquids, like sneezes, water vapor, and other bodily fluids. Next, the addition of more antiviral and antimicrobial capabilities would help prevent the spread of the virus.
Masks like these, when tested against respiratory viruses and other transmittable diseases, would ideally reduce the spread more than existing masks. You would also be able to wear them for longer periods of time. And while they are typically available at drugstores, they are probably sold-out at the moment.
Availability of Masks
Ideally, everyone would be able to have a mask. The unfortunate reality shows that it’s not currently possible for everyone to do so, though. Hoarding and a lack of preparedness keep shelves empty.
Those who need the masks the most are anyone who is at risk and those on the frontlines. Essential services, like doctors and nurses, grocery store workers, sanitation workers, and service employees are at risk. They need masks as soon as possible. When production can fulfill demands, masks will go to doctors and nurses first.
Wearing Masks And Additional Prevention
If you do have a mask, it’s important to not touch it. When you wear it, put your ears through the loops without touching the face covering. You’ll want to change it after a day, especially if you will be in high-traffic areas from being an essential service worker. It should cover your nose, mouth and chin snugly. Dispose of it properly, without touching it when you’re done.
If you don’t have a mask, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself and everyone around you.
First, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Do this several times a day. Next, cough into your elbow. This prevents germs from spreading. Don’t touch your face either, as that is how the virus has access to your body.
Keeping your distance is step four. If you must go out, stay at least six feet away from those around you. And last, if you’re not an essential worker, social distance as much as possible. Stay home. This will save lives and flatten the curve.
If masks remain unavailable, these five steps will help in the meantime. When individuals do this it makes a difference globally.