Now that is required for all New Yorkers to wear face coverings when out in public, we’re guessing you have some questions…
And we do too! So we went straight to the source: a Manhattan nurse.
Justine Enriquez, BSN, RN, OCN, walked us through our most pressing questions about face masks in NYC, from what the differences are between certain kinds, to when and how to wear them most effectively during the coronavirus outbreak.
Here are her very informative answers, which you can read through below or watch on video!
1. What is an N95 mask?
An N95 mask is a respirator mask that filters at least 95% of particles in the air, which includes viruses and bacteria, if fit well. So there are different sizes for different sized heads. In healthcare settings we go through this annual fit test to ensure a snug fit for every employee. A snug fit means that the mask is tight around your face with no gaps for air to go through.
2. What is a homemade mask?
Currently, the CDC recommends that everybody wears a mask when you choose to go out into the public. A homemade mask can be a scarf, a bandana, or any piece of cloth that basically covers your mouth and your nose. So if you’re using a homemade mask, think of it as a barrier from your mouth and your nose to the general public. We’re preventing any droplets or microdroplets that might be carrying the virus—even if you’re asymptomatic—to other people or surfaces.
3. How can we use our homemade masks safely and effectively?
Before you go out in public, wash your hand for 20 seconds with water and soap, put on your mask, and then make sure it’s covering your mouth and your nose completely. When you want to take off your mask: take it off, and then wash your hands again with soap and water.
4. How often should I wash/dispose of my mask?
So if you have homemade masks, I recommend washing them daily with warm water and soap. If you’re using the disposable masks, you should only use them daily, unless they were dampened or soiled, then you’d have to use another one. And if you have extra disposable masks, I’d recommend calling your local healthcare facility and asking how you can donate them.
5. If we’re wearing masks, can we ease up on social distancing?
The obvious answer is no. Social distancing and staying at home is still the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. But if you find yourself in a situation where it’s difficult to be six feet apart, wearing a mask is crucial, especially in places like supermarkets and subways.
6. Is there anything we haven’t asked that you think we should know?
I would highlight daily sanitizing your household. It doesn’t have to be your whole house, but frequently touched areas like your doorknobs, refrigerator, microwave, cabinets, and especially your cell phones.
7. Any other tips to stay healthy?
Another thing that I would like to highlight is your immune system. Some tips to help boost that up include the things you eat, so fruits and veggies, lots of water, good sleep, good exercise—you want that heart pumping, and last but not least, if you’re a smoker, try to quit. You would want your lungs to be their strongest during this time.
If you have any additional questions, refer to the CDC website or call your primary care provider.
Stay safe, stay home, wash your hands, and let’s flatten this curve!
featured image source: Shutterstock