If you’ve been out in public for the past few weeks, chances are you’ve seen someone wearing a mask under their nose, essentially rendering it useless.
To combat improper mask use and poor mask selection, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is launching a social media initiative “Mask Up, Mask Right” to further reduce the spread of COVID-19.
While the news of a vaccine has excited many Michigan residents, Robert Gordon, MDHHS director, said it will remain as important as ever to continue wearing masks through 2021, and to make the right mask selection to help yourself and protect people around you.
“The science of masks is now incredibly clear, masks not only protect others, they also protect the person wearing the mask,” Gordon said Tuesday December 15.
The health department recommends using a three-layer, washable cloth mask, a three-layer, medical-grade disposable mask, or an approved KN95 mask if you are around people outside of your household. Masks should be tied over the nose and mouth and should be snug with no gaps.
Related: Which mask is best: Choose, wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic
Gordon said that hoods and loosely knotted bandanas are often too thin and not ideal, nor are masks with vents or face shields worn without a mask. He encouraged residents to keep leaving N95 masks for health workers.
Last month, the Beaumont Research Institute published a study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases in which determined masks play an important role in protecting people and drastically reducing the risk of infection. Mask wearing was associated with lower infection levels and lower symptoms in infected individuals.
During the study, blood samples were collected from 20,614 employees at Beaumont Health’s eight hospitals in Southeast Michigan. 8.8% of the participants had antibodies in their blood, which means they had previously been exposed to COVID-19.
Research showed that people exposed to COVID-19 patients without masks had an 18% risk of getting sick, while people wearing N95 masks had a 10% risk of getting sick. Of those who did wear masks but became infected, nearly 30% were asymptomatic. That total was nearly 40% for those wearing N-95 masks.
“The more time a person spends in close contact with an infected person, the greater the risk that that person will contract the virus themselves,” says Dr. Matthew Sims, director of infectious disease research at Beaumont Health.
Nurses, phlebotomists, and respiratory therapists had the highest rates of infection, probably because they had the most direct contact with COVID-19 patients. Meanwhile, physicians showed a relatively low incidence of infection, probably due to the fact that they were working with patients with limited direct contact.
Another study published by the CDC found that the use of masks aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt was associated with a 70% reduced risk of COVID-10.
The CDC recommends wearing a mask over your mouth and nose to protect the community by reducing the emission of the virus and to protect the wearer by reducing inhalation.
Coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets released when a person breathes, talks, sings, or screams. A mask helps to reduce the amount of virus inhaled / exhaled, as well as the distance droplets can travel.
“It’s important to wear the right mask and wear it the right way,” said Gordon. “We want all Michiganders to mask, mask the right as we continue to fight the virus in our state.”
Residents in need of masks can go to Michigan.gov/MaskUpMichigan to find the nearest distribution site.
To find a COVID-19 testing site near you, view the state’s online test finder, here, email [email protected] or call 888-535-6136 between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM hours on weekdays.
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