Salt Lake City, UT -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/22/2020 -- Intermountain Healthcare wants to stress the importance of protecting yourself and others around by wearing a mask or face covering, as the virus can be spread by infected individuals even if they don't have symptoms. The use of face coverings in public can reduce the spread of infection in the community by minimizing the release of respiratory droplets from people infected with COVID-19. Locally, the campaign is #MaskUpUtah, but everyone can do their part wherever they are.
"As restrictions begin to loosen and people start to get out more, we have to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19, which doesn't look like it's going anywhere anytime soon," said Ellen Arch, MD, Intermountain Healthcare. "The CDC recommends that everyone wear cloth face coverings in public places where it's hard to keep a six foot distance from other people. Face coverings combined with other preventive measures, such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing, can help slow the spread of the disease."
Dr. Arch explains that individuals should wear a face covering whenever they go out into the public, including:
- Shopping at a grocery store or pharmacy
- Going to a restaurant or picking up food from the drive thru or curbside pick up
- While visiting your healthcare provider
- Traveling on public transportation
- Interacting with customers or coworkers
- Visiting a nail salon or hairdresser
"It is also important to wear a mask properly so it can be most effective," said Dr. Arch. The best way to wear a face covering:
- Make sure it covers your mouth and nose completely.
- The face covering should fit snugly and comfortably.
- Check to make sure there are no gaps between your face and the cloth face covering.
"In choosing a face covering, different options are available," said Dr. Arch. She said that there are three main types of masks or face coverings that can help prevent the spread of infection. Here's a breakdown of each and who they're best suited for:
SURGICAL MASK OR MEDICAL MASKS: They shield against the large droplets that come from a sick person's cough or sneeze; they're used by healthcare workers.
RESPIRATOR OR N95 MASKS: They are meant to protect healthcare workers from exposure to infectious particles that may be generated during certain procedures. They must fit just right in order to work.
CLOTH FACE COVERINGS: They create a barrier for individuals visiting busy, closed spaces such as grocery stores, shopping centers, and healthcare clinics. A cloth face covering is worn to help protect others in case the wearer has the virus. They're best suited for the general public. Cloth face coverings should not be used on children under age 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing.
"It's also important to learn how to properly put your face covering on and take it off without getting germs on your hands and transferring them somewhere else," said Dr. Arch. She suggests:
- DO place your face covering over your mouth and nose.
- DO tie it behind your head or use ear loops and make sure it's snug.
- DO remove the face covering by untying it or lifting off the ear loops without touching the front of the mask or your face.
- DO wash your hands immediately before AND after removing your face covering.
- DON'T touch your face covering while wearing it. If you accidentally touch your face covering, wash or sanitize your hands.
- DON'T put face coverings on anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without help.
- DON'T put face coverings on children under 2 years of age.
- DON'T use face coverings as a substitute for social distancing.
- DON'T wear face coverings under your nose or chin.
"Keeping your mask clean is also important," she said. "Cloth face coverings can be laundered in washing machines as long as they're able to retain their shape."
There are a couple of other methods to clean masks besides the washer. You can wash by kneading your face covering for several minutes in hot water using detergent or soap. Rinse well with fresh water and hang to air-dry. To disinfect, soak your face covering for five minutes in a solution of two tablespoons of bleach per quart (liter) of water or on third cup (80 mL) of bleach per gallon (3.84 L) of water. Rinse well with fresh water and hang to air-dry.
Finally, there are some myths that face coverings decrease your ability to gain oxygen or cause you to retain carbon dioxide. "This simply isn't true," said Dr. Arch. "Oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules are much smaller than the respiratory droplets that carry the virus."
"The use of a face covering, or mask can help reduce the spread of infection in our community. Do YOUR part and wear a face covering when possible," said Dr. Arch.
For more tips on face coverings, see https://intermountainhealthcare.org/covid19-coronavirus/homemade-cloth-face-coverings/ or https://intermountainhealthcare.org/covid19-coronavirus/mask-up-utah/.
About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes and sustainable costs. For more information, see intermountainhealthcare.org.
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