How effective are homemade face coverings? One healthcare expert says perhaps not as much as we think

Coronavirus

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Wearing a cloth face mask has become an essential item for some of us as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. You’ve probably seen them on retail clerks and shoppers, or even people wearing them in their cars. However, Dr. Jose Vazquez at The Medical College of Georgia says the problem is that most aren’t wearing them the way they should.

“My concern about wearing the mask is what I’ve seen in public; if somebody has it on, they wear it inappropriately,” explained Vazquez. “They put it over the mouth, but they leave the nose out. Number two, they get closer to individuals, so they diminish the social distancing policy.”

Dr. Vazquez says the mask could also be a problem for men with beards. Since it only covers part of your mouth, germs can spread and stick to the beard.

“The virus can get out through the sides of the mask if you sneeze or cough,” said Vazquez. “Also, the virus can get in through the sides of the mask.”

Medical masks, like the N-95 masks, are reserved for those on the front lines trying to contain the pandemic. Guidelines from the CDC suggest people use things like t-shirts, scarves, or bandanas to cover their faces. So just how much can a cloth mask protect us?

“The reason for the mask is not you to prevent you from getting the virus,” said Vazquez. “Those masks don’t filter out a lot of the virus. The N-95 means it filters out 95 percent of viruses and particles. These face masks may filter out 10 percent.”

Dr. Vazquez says the CDC’s recommendation is simply a placebo effect.

“The other part of the mask is physiological,” explained Vazquez. “It does improve some anxiety or some fear to some individuals that were scared to go out in public.”

If you using a cloth mask, make sure you wash it regularly. Social distancing and washing your hands are still a top priority.

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