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As of late July, more than half of American states have mandated wearing a face mask in public. In states where masks are not mandatory, many businesses have implemented their own mask requirements.
Wearing a mask has shown to be an effective method of reducing your chance of contracting – and unknowingly spreading – COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) both recommend wearing a face mask to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Because older adults are more likely to develop serious or fatal symptoms of the disease, it’s vitally important for face masks to become part of the everyday wardrobe for seniors – even if it leads to some interesting summer tan lines.
But what type of mask is the most effective? How should they be worn? Where can older adults obtain face masks? We’ll address all those concerns and more below, in our guide to face masks.
All face masks were not created equal, and the CDC has outlined some basic criteria for what to look for in a mask.
The type of material also plays a large role. One study found that the effectiveness of filtration in a homemade face mask can range from 80% to just 5%, depending on the material. According to the study, the most effective design is a dual-layer mask featuring a heavyweight cotton layer along with either a lighter cotton or silk layer.
Look for fabrics with at least a 600-thread count, and avoid single-layer masks or double-layer masks that feature two thin or low-thread count layers.
Putting on a face mask sounds simple, but the mask is only effective when worn properly.
It’s important to wash your face mask.
According to the CDC, you can throw your mask in the washing machine along with the rest of your clothes and use regular detergent with the warmest appropriate setting for the material.
To wash by hand, mix some bleach with water and soak the mask for five minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Be sure that the type of bleach you use is suitable for disinfectant purposes.
Masks can be air dried or placed in a dryer on the highest heat setting.
If you do not yet own a face mask or are looking to obtain some extras, there are a variety of options available.
Learn more about how Medicare is helping cover older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic.