To Mask Or Not To Mask, That Is The Question

flickr jernej furman

About a month or so ago, when the coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic seeped into our conscienceness, we were told by the CDC and the WHO not to go out and panic-buy masks. The expert advice was to allow the medical and healthcare workers to get and use what masks were available, especially the coveted N95 mask. We average citizens didn’t need to wear them.

Now, and not for the first time, we’re getting a different message. Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker and the CDC are asking us to wear cloth masks in public to lessen the chance of us passing the virus to someone. The cloth mask may or may not even prevent the wearer from getting infected. (Read story HERE.)

For the first time yesterday, I wore a mask to go grocery shopping. I have no idea how old the construction mask is, think I bought ’em for spray painting my previous home 20 years ago. Only about 20% in the store were wearing a mask. No clue whether that’s because people aren’t listening to or hearing the new recommendations or if they can’t find a mask to wear.

At this point, it seems a bit futile to be one of a few to be wearing one out. It’s kind of like the majority – but not all – of the states going on lock down. The virus travels freely. You can’t pee in a pool and expect it not to cross over to other areas.

flickr michale_swan

That said, I’ll don the mask for shopping. My outdoor walking the huskies and riding my bike on the Rock Island Trail? Not gonna wear it.

Even if you feel you should wear one, you might not be able to find one on the shelves at stores thanks to high demand and low supply. I can’t sew for the life of me, and my wife gave away our old sewing machine years ago. Luckily, one of my sisters still has her sewing machine and is making some cloth masks, using the CDC website guideline.

If you have a mask or two and are wondering whether or how to wash it, here are some quick suggestions I’ve read  today:

Don’t use Clorox of bleach-type products. You’ll end up breathing in harmful chemicals

Don’t use the microwave. It won’t kill the virus as some on social media are saying. And some masks have metal sewn into them – a no no in the microwave.

Do launder them. It’s the only way to clean a cloth mask. Surgical masks are not to be laundered, but discarded after use.

Doc Watson