On Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced an order mandating face masks for all workers in essential businesses. The decision comes amidst ratcheting numbers of cases and deaths. Many health officials conclude this week as the peak of the coronavirus outbreak. As such, face coverings help prevent its continued spread.
Initially, health experts debated the value of the general public wearing face masks. Few studies provided insight into the issue. While healthcare providers wear masks while treating covid-19 patients, they also discard after each use.
Furthermore, healthcare workers access higher grade protective equipment not available to the public. Some health experts express concern over public use. When used inaccurately, masks actually pose a greater risk. One study found higher rates of transmission among healthcare workers wearing cloth coverings. The researchers attributed the higher rate to cloth masks inability to filter, their moisture retention, and their reuse.
CDC Changes Opinion on Cloth Face Masks
However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, after weeks of not recommending use of masks, reversed their opinion on the subject. Now, they recommend all people venturing into spaces where social distancing is more difficult, such as grocery stores, to wear a facial covering.
Their recommendation includes instructions on crafting a cloth face mask.
The important thing to remember is how to use them. An NPR article expressed proper usage as single use, never taken off and put back on without washing, and never adjusting once firmly in place. Furthermore, you should wash your hands after removal. Contaminants could reside within the cloth and transfer to your hands upon touching.
Originally, face masks were meant to shield the sick and prevent them from expelling virus particles. However, given many could carry the virus without symptoms or with unnoticed symptoms, everyone wearing a mask covers those asymptomatic cases. Additionally, there is benefit to those uninfected, so long as they follow usage instructions correctly.
Mayor Garcetti’s order takes effect Friday. It also permits managers of essential businesses the ability to reject customers not wearing face masks.