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Is the mask you’re wearing safe?… Not all masks are the same

BY BRITTNEE NAVE
STAR CORRESPONDENT
Not all masks work the same. 
 
According to the CDC, while face coverings are recommended to help slow the spread of COVID-19, some prove to not be so useful. In particular, these are masks with vents and exhalation valves.
 
The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control. However, masks with one-way valves or vents allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material, which can result in expelled respiratory droplets that can reach others,” the CDC website states.
 
“This type of mask does not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others.”
 
Medical groups like Ballad Health are no longer allowing masks such as these to be worn in facilities. 
 
“Before visiting any Ballad Health facility, please plan to wear a mask or face covering. Due to the increased risk of virus transmission, masks with vents and/or valves are not permitted,” the Ballad Health website states. 
 
While research is ongoing into wearing gaiters, or cloth coverings around the neck, and face shields, their usefulness and effectiveness in preventing the spread of the virus is currently unknown.
 
It is urged that these be used with caution on the CDC website. 
 
So, what other criteria, besides the type of covering worn, goes into making sure a mask is working properly?
 
As detailed by the CDC, in terms of cloth masks, it is good to aim for those with two or more layers that are washable and breathable. Masks should be worn over the nose and mouth, and securely under the chin, additionally they should be properly fitted. 
 
Surgical masks should be disposed of after use. N95 masks should still only be worn by healthcare workers. 
 
The importance of wearing a mask is expanding, not just to helping others but also now the wearer.
 
In an article titled, “One More Reason to Wear a Mask: You’ll Get Less Sick From COVID-19” by Nina Bai that was published by the University of California, it is written that according to Monica Gandhi, MD, an infectious disease specialist at UC San Francisco, face masks can protect you by blocking virus particles.
 
As a result, risks of falling seriously ill from the virus can be reduced. 
 
Current symptoms of COVID-19 at the time of this article, as detailed by the CDC, include the following: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle/body aches, headaches, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.