A month ago we were told to not all wear masks (and save them for only healthcare workers). Today, here in NYC, almost everyone on the streets is wearing one.
You've probably heard a barrage of conflicting information with strange, new terms like N95 . The topic of masks is a complex one, and we want to share everything we have learned so far in this journey.
A 'mask' and a 'respirator' are very different categories.
Respirators protect from exposure to airborne particles.
Surgical masks are a barrier to splashes, droplets, and spit.
Respirators are designed to seal tight to the face of the wearer.
Surgical masks are not designed to seal tight against the face.
The key point:
- Respirators protect you from others.
- Masks protect others from you.
Important note: You've probably heard of N95's in the news. We need to get every N95 possible to health care workers. The KN95 is a variation that fulfills the same level of protection. It's been recently approved by the FDA to sell in the U.S., but we've spoken with a number of hospitals and it remains unclear. However, as of April 11th, the device can still be as useful in protecting any essential worker putting themselves at risk
Essential workers should have access to respirators to protect themselves from everyone else.
We should all wear masks to protect essential workers from us.
There are no firm numbers, but universally, studies have shown that a large percentage of COVID-19 positive people are 'asymptomatic' meaning they aren't running fevers or coughing regularly.
It's not worth the risk. If you have the virus and are still going to the grocery store, don't put the employees at risk. Even talking can transmit particles.
A mask also keeps you from touching your face - which is a very common method of transmission.
Wearing a mask is a mental reminder that things are not normal.
There's one more thing - wearing a mask makes everyone feel like we're in it together. We've seen it firsthand in New York City. No one was wearing masks before - but now when you walk outside, the vast majority of people are wearing them.
It makes it less awkward to socially distance. It's a shared acknowledgement that we are taking this seriously. It's important.
We'd like to leave you with a few key pointers on how to wear a mask.
The most important thing to remember - DO NOT TOUCH THE FRONT OF THE MASK once you've been outside. At any time.
We kind of love the terms for taking your mask on and off, and there is a specific technique:
Donning - putting your mask on.
Doffing - taking the mask off.
Seriously - those are the technical terms for public health officials.
Here's a quick video about donning and doffing:
The KN95 and surgical masks are made to be disposed of. The M-Chitosan is made to be reusable for up to 60 washes.