June has seen a sharp increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the State of Florida. As a result, the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) has issued an advisory for all residents to wear masks while in public and to socially distance. According to FDOH, “You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.”
Wearing your cloth face cover adds one layer of protection in lowering the risk of becoming infected in the first place and is even more effective in protecting others who may not be as healthy as you are who could become very ill if infected. The other layers involve proper hygiene which includes frequent and thorough handwashing; the cleansing and disinfecting of high touch areas; covering coughs and sneezes; avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth; and social distancing. FDOH explains that, “The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth, which may contain the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the coronavirus if the person coughing has the disease.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, one of the many mixed messages that confused the public was regarding the use of facial masks. As images of masked people in China became associated with the coronavirus outbreak early on, it was quite confusing to many, when U.S. health officials advised against the use of facial masks. It was made clear that only surgical masks and N-95 respirators could adequately provide protection against the virus and that any other types could cause more harm than good.
However, as the virus has become a global pandemic and has begun to wreak havoc on the United States, health officials, including the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are able to study this new and dangerous novel coronavirus. According to the CDC, “We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in proximity – for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing – even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. Considering this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”
The CDC makes clear that surgical masks and N-95 respirators should be reserved for first responders and healthcare workers. The public is advised to make simple cloth face coverings from common household items to snugly and securely fit against the side of the face; be secured over the earlobes or with ties; include multiple layers of fabric; breathable with no restrictions; and able to be laundered and machine dried without changing its shape. The CDC warns that “Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”
To speak with a healthcare provider at Primary Medical Care Center & Urgent Care Clinic to assess any non-emergency health concerns, including suspected COVID-19 symptoms, please call (305)751-1500 for our Miami-Dade clinic or (954)289-0000 for our Broward clinic. For life-threatening emergencies, always call 911. For coronavirus updates and resources, please visit our website at www.primarymed.com.