Can simple protective masks protect you from the Coronavirus?

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With the recent health crisis originating in Wuhan, China, now spreading across the world as a global health epidemic has been declared by the World Health Organization (WHO), residents in the United States are taking extra precautions to avoid catching this deadly virus. One immediate outcome as a result of Coronavirus hysteria has been stores throughout the nation reporting that they are running out of simple protective masks.

Masks may still be available online from retailers like Amazon.com.

According to Louis J. Wasser at RedTea News, the protective mask shortages are a​           combination of Americans preparing for the worst themselves, and families purchasing these masks in bulk in order to mail them in time for their relatives in China to receive them before the potential spread of the Coronavirus to the rest of the country.

The importance of these simple masks should not be underestimated, as they do in fact have the potential to save your life. Wasser points out that these masks “come with ratings, both in letter and a number, such as N95 or P99. The letter ratings are N, R, and P. N means the mask is not resistant to oil, R means that the mask is resistant to oil, and P means that the mask is oil-proof.”

If you have been lucky enough to stash a supply of these masks, it is also critically important to remember that these masks do have the tendency to clog up after use (which is why the ratings are important so you can identify what you’re most likely to be exposed to in your immediate environment). “After that they must be disposed of” Wasser reminds us, “Breathing will also be more difficult while wearing a mask, because significant amounts of air are being blocked.”

While these simple masks might be able to take care of a significant amount of airborne pathogens, Wasser points out that “wearing protective masks isn’t completely effective against preventing the spread of viruses” which is why basic hygiene such as simply washing your hands are so important. “If you wear a mask, then take it off with ungloved hands and toss it in your kitchen trash can, odds are that you’ll still end up contaminating yourself with viruses” showing that simple common sense can go a long way. “The masks are most effective at screening droplets in the air, such as those resulting from coughing and sneezing, and are effective at keeping the wearer from contaminating others.

As of now only a small handful of Americans have been seen by medical professionals for Coronavirus symptoms. Vigilance and taking simple steps in order to prepare you and your loved ones for the worst can be the difference between protecting your health, and potentially making a critical situation so much worse.