BY LAUREN HANA MD, BGHC- If you’re like me, many of you may remember the shampoo commercial from the 1970s, in which one young girl (actually, Heather Locklear) told two friends how great her shampoo was and they each told two friends – and so on and so on – until everyone was talking about it (and buying it, too). I had pulled up this video on YouTube back in March to help visually explain exponential spread to my adult children who had never seen the commercial. I guess you could say that was an early version of “going viral.”
This got me thinking about how great it would be if we created our own viral movement here on the island, one that results in everyone wearing masks and keeping Coronavirus at bay.
As you read this article, the United States has surpassed 10 million Coronavirus cases and is well on its way to 11 million. It’s here with us in Boca Grande as well. While researchers are making slow yet steady progress, having a safe vaccine distributed robustly is still a long way off. And until then, the wearing of a mask or face covering (along with physical distancing, frequent handwashing and quarantining when sick) is the closest thing we have to a vaccine.
Think of your mask as a vaccine. Take the annual flu vaccine, for example. Getting one doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get the flu, but if you do, most times, you will get a lighter case, won’t have to be hospitalized for it and most likely won’t die from the flu. The same is true of a mask for Coronavirus. Wearing one doesn’t guarantee you won’t get it, but if you do, most times you will get a less severe case than if you (and others around you) had not worn one.
The primary way the Coronavirus spreads is from person to person by respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Face masks can help block these droplets. In the spirit of spreading the word, here are the top five reasons to wear a mask.
5. You may not realize you are contagious.
4. It is so easy. For most people, wearing a mask is a small thing to accomplish.
3. Masks may help the economy recover. Lessening the spread of coronavirus through mask use could contribute to lessening the need for repeated future closures.
2. To get back to fun. If masks can help lessen the number of people getting COVID-19, the more we wear our masks, the sooner we will be able to return to doing the things we like.
1. It’s a sign of respect. It shows that you care about your neighbors and keeping the island a special (and safe) place.
When should you wear a mask?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people 2 years of age and older wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when (not if) other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
Do I need to wear a mask if I’m driving around in a golf cart?
Even though you are outside, if you’re sitting next to someone in the cart, you are sharing their air space in close proximity. Unless you are driving solo, wear a mask.
Everyone should wear masks with two or more layers. Those over the age of 60 and/or those who have underlying medical conditions could consider using a face shield in addition to a mask. The CDC asks the public to reserve medical-grade masks, like N95 respirators, for frontline healthcare workers and first responders.
What about neck gaiters?
While the effectiveness of gaiters is still being investigated, triple-layered gaiters made of cotton are the most effective according to experts. What’s important to keep in mind with any face covering is that it should fit your nose and be snug under your chin.
What’s the correct way to wear a mask?
Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin. And be sure to clean (or sanitize) your hands before you put your mask on, as well as after you take it off.
For more information face coverings, including storing, washing and making them, visit the CDC’s Use of Masks to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19.
In addition to social distancing, washing your hands with soap and water for the suggested 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer frequently and quarantining when you are ill, the proper use of face coverings is
an important part of the Boca Grande Pledge. More than 90 Island employers and 700 individuals have signed the BG Pledge. If you’d like to take the Pledge, we encourage you to visit our website, BGHC.org, and click the link.
NOTE: A link to the fourth webinar in the Health Clinic Foundation series can be found at https://bghcfoundation.com/webinar-series/.