The purpose of a facial mask during the Covid-19 pandemic is simple: this mask will catch the water droplets you dispel and thus capture and virus you may unknowingly release. Because the incubation period for this virus can be so long, we don’t know if we’re sick.
Meaning of Asymptomatic
An asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus should be thought of as someone who isn’t yet showing symptoms. While there are some who will carry the virus and never show signs, the majority of those called asymptomatic are actually pre-symptomatic. That is, they are infected but don’t feel sick.
There can be many rumors or myths behind Covid-19 so it is important to listen to the facts and be mindful of your surroundings as well as yourself.
When to Mask
If you’re out among strangers, you should be masked. If you’re out in areas where strangers have recently been, you should also be masked. The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 can live on some surfaces for days. To protect your health and your household, an ultra-light face mask is a wise investment.
Risks of Masking
The risks of masking are very slight. It will not impact your oxygen levels or put you at risk of too much carbon dioxide. However, there are some who feel they can’t breathe in a mask, or who are prone to panic. To reduce this
- avoid masking in the heat of the day
- practice grounding if you feel yourself panicking
- tuck your bottom lip and breathe down as you breathe out to keep warm, moist air from traveling up your face
Some who mask feel a heaviness or a weight in their chest if they mask for too long. This weight or heaviness likely stems from high levels of moisture in their inhalations. To reduce this sensation
- finish your errand
- get to your vehicle or home
- get in front of moving, cool air
- turn down the AC to dry the air in your home or car
- breathe and exhale deeply with your mouth wide open
The excess moisture is not dangerous, nor is it limiting your oxygen. However, the weight can be uncomfortable and masking takes some getting used to.
Children under the age of two should not mask.
Manage Your Mask
If you use a mask for errands but can’t tolerate it for long, or want to take it off when you’re done, travel with a Ziploc bag in your pocket or purse. When you’ve finished your errands, gently remove the mask. Hold it by the earpieces. Place it in the bag and seal it. When you get home, either put the washable mask in warm soapy water or discard the mask.
Careful handling is critical to a safe masking technique. Coronavirus is suspended in the water droplets you exhale. If you are not a carrier, the moisture that builds up from your breath in your mask may capture an airborne virus on the outside of your mask. Rough handling will dislodge the virus. Don’t touch the face portion of your mask when you remove it.
Severity of Illness
There are some who will get this virus and suffer little. Others will suffer lifelong health problems, and many will die. While research is ongoing, current studies indicate that older Americans are at greatest risk. Thus, a young masker may feel that their risk of the disease isn’t worth the hassle of a mask, but this decision may be deadly for their elderly neighbor, their parent, or grandparent.
Additionally, just because a young person’s chance of survival is better doesn’t mean that this virus is worth the risk. Yes, you may just suffer a bad cold and nasty cough. However, many survivors now struggle with lung scarring that will last the rest of their days. The long-term effects of Covid-19 will not be known for years. Don’t put your future on the line in the hopes that you just get a bad cold.
The science on Covid-19 is endlessly expanding. It can be frustrating to try to stay on top of the latest set of instructions. We have not been through a dangerous airborne epidemic, as a society, for years. That being said, a mask is a simple sacrifice to make for the safety and well-being of our families and our neighbors.