CDC says healthy people can now wear face masks to protect against coronavirus

Local doctor explains how to correctly use protective wear

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Centers for Disease Control had recommended people wear a face mask only if they are sick up until Friday, when federal leaders suggested people wear them in some public places.

“The CDC and the task force recommend wearing cloth face masks in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain,” said U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

President Donald Trump said wearing a non-medical cloth mask isn’t a requirement but rather a voluntary public health measure. This comes as more information about the disease shows some people may be asymptomatic and spreading the virus.

Adams said face masks are now encouraged in places like a grocery store or pharmacy, where social distancing is difficult.

“This isn’t currently a mandate, but we have seen this is some Asian countries where people wear them routinely. It’s just a good hygiene measure to keep germs to yourself and to keep others from spreading their germs,” Dr. Rajiv Bahl said.

Bahl is a local emergency room physician who said taking the extra protective measures could help slow the spread, if executed correctly.

“If you are going to wear a surgical mask, you’ll want to pull it down, press it against your nose and squeeze. The best way is to make sure it’s tight around your nose and face, then wrapped around your ears. Sometimes we see people wearing masks below (their nose, just covering their mouth) which is incorrect, it needs to be around your nose,” Bahl said.

Bahl said homemade masks and scarves are still effective in preventing respiratory droplets from getting near your nose and mouth. He said he’s noticed many people using masks and gloves the wrong way.

“I’ve seen a number of people use gloves to pump their gas, immediately grab their cellphone and put their phone to their face. That’s not the way you need to use these gloves. These are meant for a one-time use. If you’re going to use them, after your done, (take) off those gloves then use a hand sanitizer or wash your hands,” Bahl said.

Bahl said masks and gloves are not substitutes for social distancing or proper hygiene like washing your hands but can be helpful if you need to go out.

“We need to be prudent in the way we take off and put on these masks to make sure we’re not infecting ourselves with old germs. Some of these germs are lasting on fabrics longer than we anticipated,” Bahl said.

He said there are several videos online to teach you how to properly remove gloves and face masks, so you don't continue to spread germs.

Bahl also recommends people ditch their contacts and wear glasses as an added barrier from germs. Not only does it help keep germs out of your eyes from putting in contacts, it may also deter you from touching your eyes with your hands.

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