At first, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization were ambivalent about whether wearing a mask could protect against the novel coronavirus. What those two health care organizations have since learned is that not only is the virus highly contagious and can cause a dangerous respiratory disease without a cure, COVID-19, it can also be thwarted by a swath of cloth.

Wearing a mask is a simple precaution that minimizes the area that respiratory droplets can travel when someone coughs, sneezes, laughs, or even talks. In those aerosolized secretions, the virus can cover an area 6-10 feet from the source. 

Yes, masks can be uncomfortable, confining, or chafing. The trick is to get used to them, say experts from the Mayo Clinic, a national nonprofit health organization that specializes in treating complex illnesses. Here are a few of their tips on adjusting to wearing a face covering.

START SLOW

Start wearing a mask at home to get used to the feel. Start with wearing it while watching TV or playing computer games. Then, try it outside on a walk, a bike ride, or while exercising or playing. Don’t overdo it. Start slow and add more time each day to become comfortable with it.

FIND YOUR FIT

Many face mask options are available. Reusable masks made of cloth come with either adjustable ties that loop behind your head or elastic to pull over your ears. Homemade masks are popular and can tout a favorite team or school or match your outfit. All should bend at the top center around the bridge of your nose. Others are shaped to stand away from your face, which, for some, feels less confining. Reusable masks should be washed often.

MASK ALTERNATIVES

Texas is bandana country. Tie one around your face, making sure to cover your nose. You can also use scarves. Get creative, match your own personal style while staying safe and keeping others safe. 

Some are going with gaiters, circles of cloth worn around the neck that you pull up to cover your nose and mouth when needed. Sporting goods stores have some designed to keep your neck cool while protecting your face. 

Whatever you choose, make sure it’s comfortable and clean. Keep a couple on hand.

suzanne@thepicayune.com

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