The facts about face masks

Face masks play an important role in our fight against COVID-19.

Face masks have quickly become an important part of our daily lives. Whether you agree or not with the new mask mandate, it’s important to understand the facts surrounding face masks and the role they play in our fight against COVID-19.

“If you are infected with COVID-19 and wear a face mask, you are decreasing the amount of virus you put in the air through your mouth and nose,” said Larry Botts, MD, Chief Medical Officer at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission. “This is because high concentrations of the COVID-19 virus live in the upper respiratory tract so face masks can ultimately reduce transmission of COVID-19.”

There’s a lot of misunderstanding around face masks so we asked Dr. Botts to help clear up the confusion by providing the facts.

Myth: I’m wearing a mask so social distancing is not necessary.

Fact: If everyone in a group is wearing a mask, then social distancing is less important. However if you are wearing a mask but others are not, your best bet is to maintain social distance.

Myth: Although I wear a mask, my friends do not so I’m not being protected.

Fact: It is true that my mask protects you and your mask protects me, but it doesn’t mean that you are not getting any protection if you are the only one in a group wearing a mask. Your mask still helps protect you through decreased droplet penetration so you are benefiting by wearing a mask no matter if those around you comply or not.

Myth: Wearing a mask can make you sick.

Fact: Some individuals, such as those with respiratory or cardiac issues, may find it difficult to breath through a mask. For the majority of us, there is very little risk of becoming sick due to wearing a mask.

Myth: I’m not sick. There’s no reason for me to wear a mask.

Fact: You may have the virus and not know it. According to Dr. Botts, we are seeing a significant number of individuals become infected and remain asymptomatic, or have no symptoms at all. Also, good evidence exists that people can shed the virus, or be contagious to others, for a short period of time before symptoms develop.

Myth: The mask only needs to cover my mouth.

Fact: The key to wearing a mask is to make sure it fully covers your nose and mouth. It should also be low enough to go over your chin so that air cannot easily escape.

Myth: I’ve already recovered from COVID-19 so it’s no longer necessary for me to wear a mask.

Fact: Experts believe people who have recovered from COVID-19 most likely have an immunity for some period of time. However, this is a novel disease and there are reports of patients becoming reinfected. The science is still unknown so it’s best to be safe and wear a mask.

If you have questions about COVID-19, visit AdventHealthKC.com or you can speak with a nurse 24/7 by calling AdventHealth NurseLine at 913-676-7777.