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Doctors: masking up helps stop COVID-19

Doctor: ‘They factually reduce transmission.’

-Messenger file photo
Ashton Acree wears a face mask at Hy-Vee in April. With CDC guidelines recommending that the general public wear face masks, most places of business either require masks to be worn or highly recommend them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made an impact on the wardrobes of Iowans.

People now routinely go out and about wearing masks. Some have even made their masks a fashion statement that declares their loyalty to a sports team or a cause.

Masks, both fancy and plain, are a key tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19, according to health care professionals.

”That small piece of cloth can save so many lives and enable us to re-engage with the economy and reduce those struggles we’re seeing happen throughout the country,” said Dr. Megan Srinivas, an infectious disease specialist from Fort Dodge.

Dr. Lincoln Wallace, of Fort Dodge, also touts the use of masks to combat COVID-19.

”There is no question in my mind that masks, if worn consistently, decrease how much it’s passed around,” he said. ”Are they 100 percent effective? No. But do they decrease it? Yes, that is 100 percent a fact. They factually reduce transmission.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes masks as a kind of ”source control.” A mask, according to the CDC, helps prevent the person wearing it from spreading COVID-19 to others.

Here is some information on masks based on data from the CDC and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Who should wear a mask?

Just about everybody.

The Iowa Department of Public Health advises that everyone should wear a mask when in public, especially when social distancing is difficult to maintain.

There are a few groups of people who should not wear masks, however. They include:

• Children younger than 2

• People who have trouble breathing

• People who cannot remove the mask without assistance.

What kind of mask should be worn?

The CDC recommends masks made of two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric.

The mask should completely cover the nose and mouth. It should also fit snugly against the sides of the face.

People should not wear masks made of vinyl or any material that makes it hard to breathe.

Also, people should not wear masks that have valves or vents in them. Those valves or vents could allow virus particles to escape.

At this time, the CDC is not recommending the use of gaiters or face shields. Scientists are still trying to determine if those are effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19.

What about glasses?

Having your glasses fog up is an annoying side effect of wearing a mask. To prevent that, the CDC recommends wearing a mask that fits closely over the nose or has a nose wire in it to ensure a close fit.

Can masks be washed?

Yes. The CDC recommends using regular detergent and the highest water temperature suitable for the fabric the mask is made of.

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