For over a year now, millions all over the world have been made aware by health experts to wear a mask, which has been proven to be one of our best defenses against the novel coronavirus. However, not just any mask will do – it’s essential to choose one with proper fit, materials, and layers. Unfortunately, with countless options on the market, several styles fail to meet the minimum safety standards. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now warns that some popular face coverings, particularly several that are commonly worn in winter, are “not substitutes for masks.” These may technically cover your mouth and nose, but ultimately they offer minimal protection against the virus.
The first face-covering warned by the CDC is scarves. While scarves are surely better than nothing, the CDC warns that they do not qualify as protective gear. The health authority explains on its website that scarves that are “used for warmth are usually made of loosely knit fabrics that are not suitable for use as masks to prevent COVID-19 transmission.” They instead suggest wearing your scarf over a protective mask.
The second face-covering on the list are the ski masks. The CDC cautions against using ski masks as protection against COVID-19, citing concerns about fabric type. While the organization recommends “masks made with breathable fabric (such as cotton)” and “masks with two or three layers,” ski masks tend to be made of poorly ventilated polyester, and feature only a single layer of fabric. What if you actually plan to ski, however? The rule still stands – use your usual mask for viral protection, and add any additional layers for warmth on top.
And, another face-covering that the CDC warns against is the face-shields.
Face shields are the only item on this list considered PPE, but the CDC still warns that they should not be used instead of a mask that covers the mouth and nose. “Face shields and goggles are primarily used to protect the eyes of the person wearing it,” explains the CDC, adding that they “have large gaps below and alongside the face, where your respiratory droplets may escape and reach others around you.” However, the CDC also acknowledges that wearing a mask may not be feasible in every situation for some people. If you must wear a face shield, you should choose one that “wraps around the sides of your face and extends below your chin or a hooded face shield,” the agency explains. Please take these notes to heart and stay safe and healthy.