As we see wide-spread community transmission of COVID-19, we all need to be more diligent about our mitigation tactics. With the high rate of transmission, everyone should wear a mask when in public.

There was good news this week after studies showed higher effectiveness of mask-wearing than initially thought. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new information supporting the use of masks. According to CDC testing, cloth masks reduce the spread of COVID-19 more than previously thought. Initial findings showed wearing a mask greatly reduced the risk of transmitting the virus to others while offering minor protection to the person wearing it. The new study confirmed that masks protect those around the wearer from respiratory droplets and help reduce inhalation of these droplets.

The virus spreads by infected droplets ejected from the nose and mouth through talking, sneezing, and coughing. A mask effectively blocks a large amount of these droplets from entering the open air. The mask also acts as a barrier for the wearer by filtering infected droplets that would otherwise be inhaled.

Wear your mask

We at Tri-County Health Care want to remind everyone to wear a mask while in public. Choosing the right mask is of vital importance. We have many options, but some are better than others. A multi-layered cloth mask could save your life and the lives of others. The CDC recommends a multi-layered cloth mask, preferably one with at least three layers. Bandanas and gaiter masks should be avoided; they do not provide nearly as much protection as a regular cloth mask does.

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Exhalation vents

I understand that masks with exhalation valves or vents are fairly popular. These masks make breathing easier but also have a significant flaw. Masks with a vent allow potential virus-infected droplets to enter the environment. These masks do not provide protection for people around you and are not allowed in our facilities. People entering our facilities wearing such a mask will be asked to cover it with a cloth or paper mask.

We ask everyone to come together and please wear masks. As everyone seeks a return to normalcy, we need to stop the spread of the virus. Remember to wash your hands, practice social distancing, stay home if you’re sick, and when you go out in public or spend time with people who do not live in your household, wear a mask.