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COVID-19 Face Masks: Which ones to wear and why?

COVID-19 Face Masks: Which One To Wear & Why -- By Dr. Brian Shaw, PT, DPT

As of April 10th, 2020, Los Angeles county and the city of Long Beach have issued an ordinance requiring the public to use “face coverings” when stepping out into the public.  As required by law, Reischl Physical Therapy now requires all patients wear a face mask when visiting the clinic.  In order to ensure the safety of our staff as well as the public, all of our clinical staff are wearing face masks as well.  Below is a guide on different types of masks, their respective level of protection, and tips for making your own. 

Cloth or Homemade Mask

  • Filtration
    • Depends on the material used 
    • A quick way to check if your material is dense enough is hold it up to the sunlight.  The less light that you observe through your mask, likely the greater the filtration.
  • Choosing/Making your own mask
    • Try to find or make a mask with at least 2 layers.
    • Make sure your mask comes up over your nose, fits below your chin, and fits snugly on your face.
  • Remember
    • Do your best to wash your mask with soap and water after using it in public.  
    • Try not to touch the outside of your mask.  If you do, immediately wash or sanitize your hands. 

N95

  • Filtration
    • Blocks 95% of tiny particles
  • Materials
    • Polyester and synthetic fibers tangled together 
  • Remember
    • Per CDC guidelines, surgical masks and N-95 respirators are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders

Surgical

  • Filtration
    • Blocks 60-80% of small particles 
  • Materials
    • Paperlike synthetic fabric that has pleats to help with facial fit
  • Remember
    • Per CDC guidelines, surgical masks and N-95 respirators are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders

Information adapted from: 

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/health/coronavirus-best-face-masks.html

Sample