In an informal online survey conducted by the Appeal, about 80 percent of respondents said they wear a mask all the time or when around people. 

That leaves the other 20 percent … made up of people who said they don’t wear a mask because they don’t have one, or for no good reason, or they think wearing masks is silly, or because of breathing problems. 

Bi-County Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu said that, generally speaking, masks do not inhibit breathing but that people with medical conditions like asthma may have a harder time. For that reason, those with medical conditions are exempt from the local order requiring that masks are worn. For everyone else, Luu said people should wear a mask. She pointed out that healthcare workers wear masks for 12-hour shifts without any issues.

“Masks are loose fitting and porous, allowing air flow in and out and permitting normal respiratory functions, while limiting the release of respiratory droplets,” Adventist Health/Rideout communications manager Linda Plummer said in an email. “This makes it highly unlikely that wearers would see significant depletions in their oxygen intake.”

Ampla Health Chief Operations Officer Carlos Peralta said N-95 masks are the best but that cloth masks are effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19. Luu said cloth masks provide the best breathability.

“The best mask is the one you can wear comfortably and consistently,” Plummer said.

Masks made from anything that can be an irritant for a person such as plastics or nylon should be avoided, according to Peralta. He said masks can be purchased at supermarkets and pharmacies, but can also be made at home with cotton material.

“Facial coverings are very easy to make out of household items like a bandana, scarf, or t-shirt,” Luu said in an email.

She directed people to for how-to videos about making masks at home.

Surgical masks should be discarded after each use but cloth facial coverings are longer lasting but should be washed with soap and hot water. It’s advised that cloth masks be washed after every use.

“Scrub the facial covering for at least 20 seconds and dry on high heat in the dryer,” Luu said. “Store your facial coverings in a clean place.”

Cloth masks can also be left to hang and air dry. When taking off a mask, do not touch the front of the mask and fold it in half inwards, so that droplets from the mouth and nose are not exposed, according to Plummer.

Cloth facial coverings protect others from the individual wearing the mask and N-95s offer the best personal protection, according to Luu.

“Masks are effective as a ‘source control’ because they can prevent large expelled droplets from evaporating into smaller droplets that can travel farther,” Plummer said. “If both people are wearing masks, control is twice as effective.”

Peralta said individuals benefit from wearing a mask outside, even if they are alone because the virus is airborne meaning it can remain floating in the air for up to three hours.

Luu and Plummer said when people are outside but in areas where people are not around or more than six feet apart, masks do not need to be worn.

Some mistakes that people make when wearing a mask include touching the front middle part of the mask to fix it, not covering the mouth, nose and chin, and pulling them down to talk.

“The bottomline is that any mask that covers the nose and mouth will be of benefit,” Plummer said.

Luu said wearing a facial covering is an act of compassion and should be worn whenever someone is in close proximity to others, even other family members.

“You’re showing those around you (stranger or not) that you care about their health and you respect them,” Luu said. “Facial coverings are proven to minimize the spread of the virus.”

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