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  • Busra Yildirim, reporter

Only Tool Proven to Protect Against Virus: Masks

There are two essential preventive measures to a global pandemic: social distancing and face masks. Many debates have sparked about the legitimacy of face masks and whether they are necessary during Covid-19. Across the globe, health authorities offer different viewpoints on how essential face masks are and if they should even be considered as a way to prevent Covid from spreading.

These debates cause misconceptions about the importance of face masks, and hinder many people from preventing the spread of the virus. Face masks are an essential preventive measure against coronavirus but it is also important to consider other preventive measures.

The German Department of Health states that coronavirus is an airborne illness. Airborne transmissions spread through coughing, sneezing, spitting, or talking. This causes the release of infectious droplets into the air that other people end up breathing.

According to the CDC, wearing a mask could prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and other people. When masks are worn over the mouth and nose, they reduce the amount of droplets that spread. Masks are mainly important when people go to crowded places where keeping a six feet distance is not possible and hard to maintain.

Some may choose their masks to make a fashion statement, but it is also important to consider the functionality. According to the CDC, the most effective mask to wear is the N95 mask, which is used by frontline health workers. The availability of this mask is scarce because of the demand in hospitals. Cotton masks, the most common type, are also good at blocking the spread of droplets. Masks that are ineffective are masks made out of bandanas, knitted masks, and neck fleeces.

The CDC provides guidelines on how to properly handle masks. When outside, there can be many individuals wearing masks in an improper and ineffective way. People should make sure to wash their hands before putting a mask on. In order to maximize the functionality of masks, they must be worn over the nose and mouth.

When taking off a mask, make sure to untie the string behind the head or stretch the ear loops. Only the ties/strings should be touched. Then the outside corners of the mask should be folded together and placed into a washing machine. Immediately after removing, hands should be washed.

Masks have become a topic of controversy. "Anti-mask" individuals believe that masks are a political scare tactic used by the government. They suspect that the case numbers are a hoax. Many of these individuals do not believe that masks are an effective preventive measure against the virus.

Although there is uncertainty about how effective masks are as a preventive measure, there are laboratory studies that indicate that masks play an important role in limiting the spread of the virus. All of these had the same conclusion: masks are a physical barrier that prevent droplets from spreading further into the air.

Schools across the nation have taken different initiatives mandating masks. Some states only require older kids to wear masks while other states do not make it mandatory and only recommend masks.

Kansas requires all private and public school teachers and K-12 students to wear a mask. Every person has to sanitize their hands at least once per hour. Before entering the building, they must have their temperature taken. Although masks could affect students’ learning, one must consider how they are protecting their teachers and peers' lives.

In order to protect people from contracting Covid-19, individuals must implement certain precautions. Face masks are an essential safeguard to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, and must be incorporated into a daily routine when it comes to school, work, and social lives. Instead of viewing masks as a political statement, they should be perceived as a necessary measure used to protect the general public.

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