Face masks

What’s the best way to keep a face mask sanitary while wearing it? Touch the straps if needed — but not the mask itself — and don’t push it down under the chin.

Sandy Fink, infection preventionist and safety officer at Greenwood Leflore Hospital, recently responded to some frequently asked questions concerning face masks and their proper use to combat the COVID-19 virus.

Fink said she took into consideration  advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and noted that more information can be found at www.cdc.gov.

Leflore and Carroll counties are among those recently added to Gov. Tate Reeves’ mandate requiring that people wear masks in most indoor public spaces and at public gatherings. This mandate goes into effect Monday. Greenwood and Leflore County officials already had issued local mandates requiring that masks be worn.

What’s the proper way to wear a face mask, and what is the point of it?

“The proper way to wear a face mask is to have it cover both the mouth and nose. This prevents moist particles of air that may contain virus particles from getting into the air.

“A significant number of individuals who have COVID may not have symptoms, so masks protect the people around you. Their masks protect you in case they have COVID.  

“The CDC recommends all people 2 years of age and older wear a cloth face covering in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their household.”

For reusable cloth masks, what’s the best way to clean them? Put them in the laundry or hand-wash them?  

“The CDC states you can include your face covering with your regular laundry. Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used in the face covering. Dry at highest heat setting.

“You can, however, wash by hand. Prepare a bleach solution by mixing 1/3 cup of household bleach per gallon of room temperature water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water.  Soak the face covering in the bleach solution for five minutes.  Rinse thoroughly.  You can then dry the mask or lay it flat, preferably in direct sunlight, until completely dry.”

If you have a reusable cloth mask, how many times can you wear it before you have to clean it?

“The cloth face covering should be changed daily or sooner if it becomes moist or dirty.  Be sure to handle it only with clean hands when putting it on or off.”

Is it OK to pull a mask underneath your chin whenever you need access to your mouth — for example, if you need to drink water or eat?

“When you need to remove your face covering, remove it by the straps or ear loops, and fold the outside corners together. Do not hang it around your neck or put in on your forehead. Don’t touch the face covering once it is in place. After removing your face covering, wash your hands.”

If you need to readjust your mask, what’s the best way to do so to avoid contaminating it? What parts of the mask should you avoid touching?

 “If you have to adjust your mask, try to do so by handling the edges near the ear loops or ties.  If you must touch the front of the mask to adjust it, immediately wash your hands after the adjustment is made.”

Contact Adam Bakst at 581-7233 or abakst@gwcommonwealth.com. Twitter: @AdamBakst_GWCW or Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com

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