Can Cotton Masks Block Out the COVID Virus?

Can Cotton Masks Block Out the COVID Virus?

Treatments for COVID-19 cases have come a long way, and up-to-date vaccination offers significant protection against COVID-19 infection. Still, with the unknown risks of long COVID and ongoing heightened risk for young children and seniors from a COVID-19 case, you should continue to take steps to reduce your exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

At GatherWell COVID Testing of Ham Lake, Elk River, Edina, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, our team of infectious disease experts can help you better understand how to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from COVID-19 infection. We provide a full range of testing options if you have possible COVID-19 symptoms or recent exposure.

When it comes to masks and how personal protective equipment (PPE) can protect you against the virus that causes COVID-19, here’s what you need to know.

Respiratory droplets and masking up

COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets and aerosols. The droplets that can carry COVID-19 may be relatively large and subject to gravity, or small enough to float in the air the way that smoke does.

Your risk of contracting COVID-19 goes up depending on the amount of virus you’re exposed to. Exposure to a smaller viral load lessens your chances of becoming infected. Conversely, if you are exposed to a higher viral load, your chance of infection goes up.

Using PPE in such ways as masking up is one way that you can control the amount of SARS-CoV-2 virus that you or your friends and family are exposed to. You can limit your own respiratory exhalations with masking, and reduce the amount of virus in the air that comes in contact with your own nose, mouth, and throat, as well.

Cloth, surgical, or N-95 masks?

Many types of different masks are available to you to reduce your COVID-19 exposure levels. Understanding the different types of masks and the different degrees of protection they give is essential for managing your COVID-19 risk this summer.

While cloth masks can somewhat reduce the amount of respiratory droplets you inhale, smaller aerosolized viral particles can pass right through the small gaps in non-medical fabric weave like cotton, and potentially cause you to become infected.

You get better protection against both respiratory droplets and aerosolized virus using a surgical mask. And, masks rated to 94 or 95 grade status offer you strong protection, especially when correctly fitted. 

N-95, KN-95, and other similarly rated manufactured respirators, fitted correctly and used consistently, are your best bet for effectively reducing COVID-19 spread for yourself and those around you.

Based on your personal plans, your personal risk factors for COVID-19, and the risk levels of the people in your household, as well as community spread numbers in your region, you can calibrate the degree of protection you think you need against the COVID-19 virus.

For same-day laboratory services with COVID-19 testing results available in minutes, contact GatherWell today. You can schedule an appointment online or over the phone.

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