Facing the facts: Masks and their effectiveness in preventing the spread

With various face-covering types, each falls differently in order of effectiveness. The CDC along with other credible sources suggests thick cloth masks and surgical masks provide the most protection.

Sophies Scoop: An Arrowhead Column

Sophie’s Scoop: An Arrowhead Column

In order to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus, going out into the world has been redefined as masks have become a significant aspect of getting ready to go. What used to be only putting clothes on, grabbing keys, and going out the door, has been altered to add a protective face covering to prevent COVID-19.
We see all different kinds of masks as we are out and about, but which ones are the most effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19? Which are the least effective?

The most commonly worn face coverings are cloth and surgical masks, neck gaiters and face shields. Of course, each of these provide some protection from COVID-19, but statistics favor some coverings over others.
Straightaway, here’s my advice: choose to wear a comfortable face covering that is either surgical or cloth.
According to Hackensack Meridian Health, thick cloth masks can prevent droplets from spreading any further than about two and a half inches. The CDC recommends that fabric masks are made with 100% cotton and the thicker, the better.
In contrast, neck gaiters prove to be less effective compared to other masks.
It’s really all about the material that a mask is made out of. Most neck gaiters are synthetic or thin cloth, which does not prevent the spread of droplets. Many people wear these without knowing their lack of protection.
N95 masks are known to be protective, but the CDC suggests that this type of face mask should be reserved for healthcare workers. Surgical masks are effective as well, but should only be worn one time and disposed of after usage.
Another common covering is what is called a face shield, which is a clear plastic barrier that connects from one’s head and falls in front of their face.
The CDC states that they do not recommend the use of face shields due to “a lack of evidence of their effectiveness to control the spread of the virus for source control.”
Walking around the community and noticing people wearing masks without covering their nose is horrifying. If a mask fits too big, the ties can be adjusted for it to fit.
When people purposefully choose to wear a mask without covering their nose, it is inconsiderate and selfish.
These items are not difficult to acquire, and if the goal is to keep people safe and prevent the spread, why are people continuing to disregard the safety of others? Masks are made to protect other people. People need to buy groceries safely. Students need to attend school safely.
Masks are very noticeable because of certain trends as well. With the election arising, political face coverings have become a current popularity.
We see Black Lives Matter masks along with blue lives matter masks. We see all kinds of different politically charged masks. Face coverings are the most noticeable feature of people in the current climate.
Opinionated masks are not a questionable thing; they have the same connotation as a shirt, but some definitely cross a line and are off putting to others.
The biggest takeaways here are as follows: thick cloth masks as well as surgical masks are the way to go. Remember to cover the nose and dispose of surgical masks after one use.
When purchasing a mask or putting one on, take into consideration that they are meant to protect others, not to discriminate, nor spread the virus. Express yourself in a safe and healthy manner.