Face Masks – Get used to wearing them.
by Sarah Hobday, MBCI, CBCP Business Continuity Professional
As more and more businesses are opening back up so comes the requirements for people to wear masks. Many businesses are requiring customers to wear face masks to be permitted to shop in their stores. In April, the US Military mandated the wearing of cloth face coverings for everyone on the installation and in all of their buildings, to include office buildings for civilian staff. Airlines have also begun requiring that people wear masks on their flights.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put out guidance on the importance of people to wear cloth face coverings. The US Military and CDC use the term “cloth face coverings” in place of “masks” to help dissuade people from wearing surgical masks or N-95 respirators unless they are in a medical setting. The CDC says that surgical masks or N-95 respirators are critical supplies that need to be used only by healthcare workers and medical first responders.
COVID-19 research has shown that a large portion of infected people do not show any symptoms (they are “asymptomatic”). Individuals can also transmit the virus to others even before they are symptomatic. Coronavirus spreads between people in close proximity to one another through respiratory droplets from speaking, sneezing, or coughing. When individuals wear cloth face coverings they help greatly limit the chance to spread the virus.
Numerous governments (both national and local) are beginning to also encourage, and in some places, require people to wear cloth face coverings/masks. “Wearing a mask could literally save someone else’s life,” Virginia Governor Ralph Northam told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in May. Health officials encourage people to wearing cloth face coverings since you never know who you could be infecting, this is especially true for asymptomatic individuals. “That face covering is really the barrier between my respiratory droplets getting on to you and infecting you with the virus and vice versa,” Berrien County Health Department’s Gillian Conrad told WNDU news in early May.
Wearing cloth face coverings is important in areas where physical distancing cannot easily be maintained (e.g., public transport, grocery store, pharmacy, office building). Physical distancing remains very important in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and the addition of individuals wearing cloth face coverings/masks will slow the spread even further. Please do you part and wear a cloth face covering and practice physical distancing.
Sarah Hobday works in Virginia, USA. She holds current certifications with the Business Continuity Institute and Disaster Recovery Institute International.