Photo by Vera Davidova on Unsplash

Let’s Turn the Corner

 Masks are just as important to preventing the spread of COVID-19 10 months into this pandemic as they were last spring.

South Carolina has a long way to go before we can say we’ve rounded the turn on COVID-19. Our state political leaders have all but walked off the job to keep the disease under control. As vaccine administration lags across the country, it’s up to the rest of us to continue taking this seriously.

Luckily, wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to minimize exposure and transmission when you do venture outside of your home. Skeptics dismiss mask-wearing as ineffective or unimportant. Let us emphasize this: They are wrong.

Since last March, we have learned a lot about this virus, but as we saw just last week when two overseas COVID-19 variants turned up in S.C., there are still many things we don’t know that could set us back if we’re not careful.

For that reason, now is a good time to revisit the basics of mask-wearing, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

The mask: Effective face masks include multiple layers of washable, breathable, tightly woven fabric. At least two layers are preferable, but one layer is better than nothing. Single-layer gaiter-type face coverings should be folded to create two layers of protection. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said wearing two masks can be helpful to add layers of fabric. Clear plastic face shields are not recommended by the CDC.

How to wear it: Masks should completely cover your nose and mouth. They should fit snugly around the sides of your face without gaps. (It’s a myth that carbon dioxide you exhale will hurt you; it escapes when you breathe out.) Minimize touching your mask, just as you minimize touching your face. The CDC recommends washing your hands immediately after removing your mask.

Can I stop wearing a mask when I am vaccinated? No. While vaccines have proven remarkably effective at preventing infection and show some signs of slowing transmission, it’s not clear how much they stop the spread of the virus. Be safe. Keep wearing the mask.