Mask Up: For Altruism and Solidarity

Face masks look to be our new reality for the foreseeable future. Surgical masks and N95 respirators are in short supply. Which is why they should be saved for healthcare workers on the front lines. For the rest of us, or even healthcare workers in the non-work parts of life, DIY cloth masks worn to the grocery store, pharmacy, and other public places, are the way to go to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Masks do not take the place of 6 feet social distancing and frequent handwashing. However, cloth masks in public settings help protect those around you, especially any vulnerable community members. Homemade masks cannot block or filter the very tiny virus particles of Covid-19. But masks do help stop droplets and spray. This can reduce disease spread between individuals. Think of it as both altruism and solidarity. We’re all in this 2gether.

The many different DIY patterns and tutorials available online can feel overwhelming. The main thing to remember is that using a mask with a good fit and pairing it with excellent hand hygiene can significantly flatten the curve.

Fit Matters

Choose a DIY mask based on multiple layers of fabric. Also look for a design that fully covers your mouth and nose. Take special care that the mask reaches the bridge of your nose and continues down under your chin.

Aim for a snug fit secured with ties or ear loops, yet is comfortable enough that you can wear it for the length of time you’ll need a mask. This could be one hour in the grocery store or eight hours at work. You’ll also want to select a fabric that is breathable, while avoiding any loose weave fabric choices that would allow droplets through. It’s a tough trade-off between breathability and filtration efficiency.

Take care when handling your mask, relying on the ear loops and ties and always avoiding touching the inside of the mask with unwashed hands. Wash your hands both before putting your mask on and after taking it off. It’s also a good idea to wash your cloth face masks frequently, which means that having several masks per family member is preferable.

Remember, you can count on BioPlus in these tough times, and in the better days ahead.