Wearing a mask is one of the most important steps in the prevention of coronavirus infection. Research on face-coverings for pathogen control has shown that they are highly effective especially during health epidemics.
This is why the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended every person to wear a mask in all public spaces for maximum protection from coronavirus.
Till now, professional N95 masks are known to be the most effective out of all other types of masks. However, a shortage of these masks in the market since the start of the pandemic made it difficult to obtain them.
Consequently, the CDC then suggested people wear a fabric mask and leave the N95 masks for people who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus. For instance, front line healthcare workers are required to wear an N95 mask.
Other people with regular jobs can protect themselves using a three-layer fabric mask which can also be washed and re-used. However, the confusion regarding wearing face-covering for coronavirus still remains.
This is primarily due to various studies highlighting the effectiveness of a number of masks that can be worn by people. As a result, some are wearing a cloth or fabric mask while others are going for surgical masks.
To an extent, wearing any kind of face-covering is better than wearing none at all. It can provide protection from large water droplets in the air carrying the virus. Large water droplets released by coughing, sneezing, and talking are the main way the infection spreads.
So, as long as a person is wearing a properly-fitted mask and taking all other preventive measures, the risk of coronavirus will remain low. However, there are also a number of other concerns with wearing a face mask.
For instance, communication is one of the primary concerns associated with masks other than protection. People with jobs that require a lot of social interaction are often worried about communicating while protecting themselves.
One of the best examples is teachers. During the past few months, educational institutes have reopened in parts of the US as well as around the world. In this period, teachers at both school and college level reported difficulty in delivering a lecture and communicating with students.
A study presented at the conference of the Acoustical Society of America also highlighted this very issue and showed that the commonly used fabric masks may create problems due to fabric’s impact on sound waves.
As a result, students may find it hard to hear or understand the teacher. The study also tested surgical and N95 masks along with fabric masks and concluded that N95 was ideal out of the three.
Since the CDC recommends leaving N95 masks for the healthcare workers, the other option left is surgical masks. As mentioned before, wearing any kind of face-covering provides protection.
In a classroom setting, surgical masks can also work instead of three-layer fabric masks because of the distance between the teacher and students. Therefore, teachers can choose to wear surgical masks instead of fabric masks depending on their preference.