Everyone is talking about COVID-19, or as it is more commonly known, the coronavirus. COVID-19 began in Wuhan, China, and has since spread around the globe, including here in the United States, with deaths reported on every continent. Though it is not known how some communities contracted the illness, it appears to be ramping up for a wider spread, leaving health officials and ordinary citizen rushing to find ways to prevent it.
One approach some people believe may be helpful in preventing the illness is the use of surgical masks, a move doctors and dental professionals strongly agree with. Dr. Raul Garcia of Miami, Florida, explains why.
“Surgical masks are a great way for medical professionals to protect patients from germs during procedures, and now we know that they are good for preventing germs from spreading when out in public.”
However, Garcia cautions in order for them to be effective, wearers must take precautions.
“Masks can be great tools for preventing the spread of illness from the wearer to others, but they don’t work well if they are adjusted or touched during use,” says Garcia. “The thing I see people doing is taking their mask down when they think it is safe to do so, and then lifting it back up when they feel there is a risk. But just by touching the mask you are covering it with germs, and could contract the coronavirus that way.”
Garcia says many medical suppliers and stores are now carrying masks for consumers, making them easier than ever to obtain. Also many crafters and retail stores are carrying masks for customers looking for a more permanent solution to disposable masks.
“Please also remember when using masks that they aren’t airtight to the face, nor do they protect the eyes, so be wary of that during use,” Garcia says.
Garcia also reminds patients that masks are just one component to staying safe during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Another important way you can stop the spread of COVID-19 and any illness is by washing your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds at a time,” Garcia says. “Even using products such as hand sanitizer will not go far enough toward prevention, though using hand sanitizer after washing can’t hurt.”
Garcia recommends not only being diligent about handwashing, but to also make sure if you are sick to stay home and keep yourself on self-quarantine. If you believe you may have contracted coronavirus, Garcia recommends getting tested for the illness and following your doctor’s orders. But you should call your doctor’s office before arriving in person.
“Coronavirus is a serious health threat, but it’s important to think clearly and keep your wits about you,” Garcia says. “Panicking will not help prevent COVID-19, but following the CDC recommendations could.”