To Mask or Not to Mask, That is the Question!

 

While it may not be quite as philosophical as Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be,” I find myself in constant struggle trying to determine whether facemasks are really helping slow the spread of COVID-19. It seems there are experts on both sides. So who do I believe?

In fact, I spent 2 ½ months sewing hundreds of cloth facemasks for health care workers, first responders, nursing home residents, Department of Wildlife employees, bank employees, family and friends. Were all those hours and resources (fabric, elastic, thread, HEPA filters, etc.) really well spent or were they in vain? And what about those people at work, in the grocery store, in the pharmacy, in convenience stores, at the gas station, at Walmart who aren’t wearing one? Are they clueless? Are they extra confident in their immunity? Do they just not care? And am I just paranoid in wearing one?

I happen to have pretty good faith in Mayo Clinic, so I did a little online research to see what they said on the matter. They state that facemasks weren’t recommended in the beginning of the pandemic because “experts didn’t yet know the extent to which people with COVID-19 could spread the virus before symptoms appeared. Nor was it known that some people have COVID-19 but don’t have any symptoms. Both groups can unknowingly spread the virus to others.” While facemasks alone will not prevent the spread, when used in combination with other measures (social distancing and hand-washing), they do help slow the spread. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/indepth/coronavirus-mask/art-20485449

 

  1. So, facemasks DO help. But, who are they protecting? Me? Others? The CDC says “A cloth face covering may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others.”

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html

And, there are some individuals who should NOT wear a facemask: children under the age of 2, people who have breathing problems, and anyone who is unable to remove the mask without assistance.

Honestly, only time may tell whether facemasks really help or not. There’s even a chance we’ll never know the answer. But for now, I CHOOSE to believe those hours and resources in sewing facemasks was not in vain. If there is a chance, I helped one person avoid this awful virus, every moment was worthwhile! Because I care about my “fellow man” I choose to wear a facemask when I’m around others even if they think I’m silly or paranoid! At the same time, I will choose not to judge you if you don’t wear one.

For more information, contact your local Extension Office: Baca County 719-523-6971, Bent County 719-456-0764, Cheyenne County 719-767-5716, Crowley County 719-267-5243, Kiowa County 719- 438-5321, Otero County 719-254-7608, Prowers County 719-336-7734. Find us on the web at: http://sea.extension.colostate.edu/ . CSU Extension offers up-to-date, unbiased, research-based information to families in Southeast Colorado. CSU Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.

 

SOUTHEAST AREA EXTENSION SAYS
Contact: Debbie Chapman
CSU Extension Agent/Southeast Area
Family & Consumer Science
Otero office: 719-254-7608
Crowley office: 719-267-5243
Email: debbie.chapman@colostate.edu

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