COVID-19 And The Importance Of Wearing A Mask
By now, masks have become part of most people’s everyday lives as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our world. In fact, mask wearing is mandatory across much of the country. As masks become more and more common, it is more important than ever to make sure you understand which kinds of masks are effective, when you should be wearing a mask, and how to wear a mask properly to avoid unintentionally contracting or spreading COVID-19. The knowledgeable team of board-certified emergency room physicians and professional staff at iCare ER & Urgent Care in Fort Worth and Frisco, TX is dedicated to providing quick, accurate, and reliable testing for COVID-19 should you develop symptoms or suspect that you may have been exposed to COVID-19. In the meantime, use this helpful information to learn more about the exceptional benefits of wearing a mask to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19.
How is COVID-19 spread?
To better understand the importance of wearing masks during the coronavirus pandemic, it is helpful to have some basic knowledge about how the virus may be spread. At this time, COVID-19 is thought to be transmitted primarily through close person-to-person contact, within about six feet, via respiratory droplets. These tiny droplets are expelled from the nose and mouth when a person talks, sneezes, coughs, and laughs. When droplets from a person infected with COVID-19 land on the mouth or nose of an uninfected person, he or she may contract the virus. As the world’s top health officials and scientists continue to understand the virus, it is now thought that asymptomatic individuals carrying the virus can also transmit it through respiratory droplets. Additionally, some pets can contract the virus.
How does a mask prevent COVID-19?
Masks and face-coverings are one of the most effective tools we have to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19. By acting as a barrier over the nose and mouth, the number of respiratory droplets that may be expelled from an infected person drops dramatically. Furthermore, wearing a mask or face-covering can help protect a healthy person from inadvertently inhaling droplets from an infected person. It is certainly beneficial to wear a mask to lower your risk of contracting COVID-19, but studies show that masks are even more effective at containing your own droplets. Because COVID-19 can likely be transmitted even by an asymptomatic person, wearing a mask is critical for protecting both yourself and others around you.
What type of masks works for COVID-19?
Generally speaking, some form of face-covering is likely better than none at all. However, there are certain masks that are much more effective against COVID-19, including:
- Surgical masks: disposable, one-time-use masks
- Fabric masks: can be worn more than once if washed regularly
- N95 masks: provide the highest level of protection but should be reserved for first responders, medical, and healthcare workers first
Face masks with valves, gaiters, bandanas, and clear face shields are not currently recommended by the CDC, though there may be some situations where they are an acceptable alternative. For example, deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals who rely on reading lips may benefit when their teacher or caregiver wears a clear face shield.
It is also critical that you wear your mask properly, ensuring that it fully covers your nose and mouth.
Who should wear a mask?
The CDC currently recommends that all individuals age two or older should wear a mask when around other people who do not live in their household, when out among the general public, and when social distancing is not possible.
There are some people who should not wear a mask, including:
- Children and infants under two years of age
- Anyone with breathing problems or difficulty breathing
- Anyone who is unable to remove their mask without assistance
- Individuals with certain psychological disorders
What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?
Despite the strong evidence that wearing a mask can slow or prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is still important to know which symptoms may mean you have been exposed to the virus and what to do if you think you are infected. In a symptomatic COVID-19 case, patients often display one or more of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden loss of taste or smell
If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or think you may have been exposed to the virus, you should get tested at your nearest ER immediately. At both of our iCare ER & Urgent Care locations in Frisco and Fort Worth, we offer three types of COVID-19 tests in the emergency room side of our unique hybrid dual-service facility, including a PCR antigen test, a SARS antigen test, and an antibody test. With high accuracy and rapid results, we are committed to helping patients determine if they have COVID-19 as efficiently as possible.
Following your COVID-19 test, you will be contacted with your results as soon as they are available. Patients are encouraged to remain in self-quarantine until they have received a negative result, regardless of their symptoms. If you do receive a positive COVID-19 test, it is critical that you follow the CDC’s guidelines and remain in self-isolation for at least ten days from the onset of your symptoms. If your symptoms are still present after ten days, you should remain quarantined and isolated until you are symptom-free for 72 hours.
Protect yourself and others by wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19
There is no doubt that wearing a mask can help protect you and those around you. Be sure to select an appropriate mask, wear it properly, and wear it at all times when social distancing is not possible. Should you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or suspect that you may have been exposed, we encourage you to visit your closest iCare ER & Urgent Care location in either Fort Worth or Frisco, TX to be evaluated by one of our board-certified emergency room physicians or professional healthcare providers. For more information about COVID-19 testing or to book an appointment for coronavirus tests in Fort Worth or Frisco, visit our COVID-19 – What You Need to Know page.
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