Many places across the United States have required people over the age of 2 to wear face coverings when they leave their homes. Wearing masks is especially important when waiting in lines, when inside essential businesses, when using public transportation, riding in Ubers, or seeking healthcare. Most employers have also required their employees to wear face coverings when at work.
What exactly do these face coverings do to slow the spread?
The primary purpose of wearing a face mask is to limit the amount of infectious particles releasing into the air when people cough, sneeze, or speak. Especially those who are asymptomatic, and may be unaware that they have COVID-19. Also, it prevents those who are pre-symptomatic, who have Coronavirus but have not developed symptoms yet from spreading any germs.
The CDC recommends that people wear face coverings in places where social distancing cannot be maintained. Social distancing should still be maintained to slow the spread.
A few masks that can assist in slowing the spread are N95 masks, KN95 masks, and surgical masks. N95 masks help protect those who wear it from airborne particles. Healthcare workers, lab researchers, and other occupations with exposure to a lot of airborne particles typically use these masks.
KN95 masks are similar to N95 masks regarding protection from airborne particles. There have been N95 shortages recently due to the pandemic, so KN95s have started to be widely used.
Surgical masks are not considered respirators, and do not filter the same amount of particles that the KN95 and N95 masks do. Surgical masks will help limit droplets from releasing into the air. Because these masks do not fit with a tight seal, particles can still enter on the edges of the mask.
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