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CAN A MASK MAKE YOU SICK? NOVANTHEALTH HEALTHYHEADLINES
Mask update No. 4: Can a mask make you sick?
Answering your most common mask-related questions.
By Josh Jarman
July 2, 2020
Now that wearing a face covering in public has become mandatory in North Carolina, some late adopters are starting to consider wearing a mask for the very first time.
Yolanda Enrich, FNP.
Meanwhile, some people declining to wear masks have said the requirement infringes upon personal freedom and is an example of government overreach.
Yolanda Enrich, a family nurse practitioner at Novant Health Adult Primary Care Waughtown, does not see mask wearing as a political issue, but rather, as a health and safety consideration for the good of everyone.
“Remember, the purpose of the mask is to not only protect yourself, but to protect those around you,” Enrich said. “Even if you are asymptomatic, you can still spread the virus to others. By wearing a mask, social distancing and practicing frequent hand-washing, you are doing your part to help slow the spread and to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities.”
What would you say to someone who believes their rights are being violated because of the masking mandate?
Please consider wearing a mask for everyone’s safety. It’s not just about you, it’s about the public good. Wearing a mask is a direct step you can take to keep yourself and members of the community safe, particularly those who are most vulnerable and at risk.
If masks really work, then why can’t we all just wear them and get back to the gym, church and sporting events?
Research shows that masks work well when paired with social distancing and hand-washing. Avoiding large crowds is still essential, even with a mask on, to help slow the spread.
If I’m sick with a cold, or even just allergies, can wearing a mask all day harm my own health? It can’t be good to trap all of that snot and spit in my mask and breathe it in for eight hours, right?
No, wearing a mask will not harm your health even if you are sick with a cold or allergies. If your mask gets too moist just make sure you are changing it regularly.
The governor said kids under 11 don’t need to wear a mask. But can’t they still catch the virus? What should we do to keep our kids safe if they aren’t wearing masks?
Yes, children can catch the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all children over the age of 2 wear a mask. If your children are over the age of 2, you can have them wear a mask even if the state does not require it.
If you work in an office setting, should everyone wear a mask? And what about those in a cubical?
Yes, employees and customers should wear masks. If working in a cubicle that allows for social distancing (6 feet) between the employee in the next cubicle, the mask is not needed. The mask should be worn when around other employees, in common areas or when walking through the office.
My adult son has autism and hates wearing a mask. Is it possible to get him a medical exemption, or what should we do?
The North Carolina mandate issued exempts children under 11, people with medical conditions and people who are exercising and able to maintain social distancing. People who can’t wear a mask due to developmental issues are not required to wear one.
Do I need to get an ultraviolet light to clean my masks?
No, just follow the CDC recommendations on how to wash your mask. You can wash your face covering with your regular laundry. Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the face covering. Use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry. If air drying, lay flat and allow to completely dry. If possible, place the cloth face covering in direct sunlight.
If I travel to a beach, should I get a COVID-19 test when I get back?
You need to follow the CDC guidelines as some areas are designated as hot spots. You definitely need to be careful around large crowds and pay attention to any symptoms you may have.
What medical conditions are exempt from having to wear a mask?
Cloth face coverings should not be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
If I have a medical condition that prevents me from being able to wear a mask and need to go into a business, do I need to get a doctor’s note?
The state does not require individuals to provide documentation for a medical exemption and is relying on the honor system.
I know I need to wear a mask inside the store, but do I need to have it on during my walk through the parking lot?
You need to wear a mask anytime you will not be able to stay 6 feet away from other people.
Is there a right way to wear my mask?
The mask should fit snugly and cover your nose, mouth and chin. You should also never touch the front of your mask as it might be contaminated. Instead, you should touch only the ear loops or ties on the back when putting the mask on or taking it off.
Take care to always have the same side of the mask facing outward. You don't want to go into a public place wearing a mask, take it off later, and then put it back on with the front now pressing on your face. Always keep the "clean" side in. And you should also wash your hands before and after use.
For answers to more of your questions on masking and how they keep us safe click here.
With health authorities continuing to urge face-covering in public to curb the spread of COVID-19, we've become familiar with the minor irritants of wearing masks: chafed ears, foggy glasses, snapped straps. The arrival of summer takes the potential discomfort up a notch, trapping sweat and heat under our facial sheaths.
"As physicians, when we are wearing masks for long periods of time, for example in surgery or during a procedure, you'll notice we keep the rooms what patients call ‘uncomfortably cold,'” says Gregory Poland, a physician and vaccine researcher at the Mayo Clinic. “There's a reason for that."
Keeping your face covered when venturing outside the home remains a crucial weapon in the fight against the coronavirus, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and mandated by some state and local governments.
Fortunately, there are ways to stay cool or, at least, cooler while masked up. Here are five tips from experts for more comfortably keeping your respiratory droplets in check.
1. Choose the right fabric
A light, breathable material like cotton will likely keep your face cooler than medical and N95 masks made from synthetic materials, and in the right configuration can be effective in preventing contagion, according to new research by Taher Saif, a professor of mechanical science and engineering at the University of Illinois.
Saif's team tested 10 common fabrics, from 100 percent cotton to polyester and silk blends, to see which best balance comfort and droplet-blocking impermeability. The “sweet spot,” he says, is a two-layer mask made from a cotton T-shirt, which comes close to matching a surgical mask's efficiency in stopping potentially infectious droplets from coughs and sneezes and is about twice as breathable.
All-cotton tested best, but up to 40 percent polyester will do the job, Saif says. “I'm not a cloth expert. I just buy things from Walmart and Target,” he adds with a laugh. “Our study showed that if you have these layers on top of your mouth and nose, you don't have to have an official mask where it goes with the elastic behind your ears. You can just wrap it around your nose and mouth, like a bandana.”
Lighter, softer cotton coverings can also help you avoid chafing, heat rash or inflaming a skin condition like eczema or dermatitis, says Carrie Kovarik, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology's COVID-19 task force.
"They make masks out of a lot of different material, so you want to feel it and make sure it's something that feels soft against your skin,” she says. “A lot of people are making masks for fashion, they want it to look nice and pretty on the face, but make sure it feels good."
2. Keep it dry
Cotton traps less air and moisture than standard medical and industrial masks, and it's more absorbent, but if it gets damp due to breathing and sweating it can be less effective in filtering respiratory particles, not to mention uncomfortable and abrasive to the skin.
"Try to stay in well-ventilated locations to keep air and vapor mixing, which can help evaporate any extra water (and also keep the rest of your skin/body feeling cooler),” says Jennifer Vanos, a biometeorologist at Arizona State University who studies the effects of heat on health.
Vanos also suggests trying masks made of especially absorbent materials like bamboo, which “can absorb up to three times the amount of water as cotton.” Hemp also wicks moisture well, and washable hemp-blend masks are widely available online, although like bamboo they tend to cost more than cotton face coverings.
3. Time trips to beat the heat
Avoid going out at the hottest parts of the day and for extended periods. Stop at home between errands if you can, to cool off and doff your mask. When you do have to be out, stay well-hydrated and seek the shade.
Being cognizant of the heat is about much more than keeping your mask fresh. “We have major issues every summer with heat exhaustion and heat stroke and heat-related deaths,” the Mayo Clinic's Poland says, and older adults are “definitely at increased risk."
An ice pack or damp cloth applied to the head or neck can help you cool off — just take care not to get your mask wet or touch your face. Poland notes other heat hacks he's observed traveling in parts of Asia where mask-wearing has long been routine.
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"They more often carry a hand-powered fan or small, battery-powered fan,” he says. That trick comes with a caveat — if you are “around a lot of people's exhalation, you're just fanning that air at yourself” — but with sufficient social distancing you may be able to use a fan to stay comfy while still protecting yourself.
"The other thing you see a lot of people doing in Asian countries during the summer is shading themselves with an umbrella,” Poland says. “Turns out that things like that actually do help."
4. Skip the makeup
Heat and perspiration mixed with makeup or oily skin care products makes for a gunky mess under your mask. “You don't have the ability to have sweat evaporate when you have the mask on. It all sits there and collects,” says Kovarik, the dermatology professor. That clogs pores and contributes to the lower-face skin eruptions that have been dubbed “maskne,” a combination of the words mask and acne.
Kovarik recommends masking up with your face clean, save perhaps for a bit of moisturizer (preferably with some SPF, if you plan to be out long). “Creams that have dimethicone in them are a good moisturizer but also is a barrier cream, so it creates some protection between your skin and the mask,” she says. “It will actually create a barrier to the friction."
Another change to make to your skin care regimen: Avoid products with retinoids or salicylic acid, which some older people use to diminish wrinkles or sun damage.
"Those can be very, very irritating if used under occlusion or under some kind of covering. We don't want to put them under the mask,” Kovarik says. “If [people] are using those products, it's better to put them on at night and then wash your face in the morning."
5. Bring a spare
If you can't keep your mask from getting icky and sticky, there's no better remedy than swapping it for another. “I recommend people do that anyway,” whatever the weather, Poland says. “When you're outside with the mask on, that mask has a limited lifespan."
On especially hot and humid days, pack multiple masks, recommends Vanos, the heat expert. Just make sure to follow the other CDC safety recommendations when changing masks, like avoiding crowds and washing or sanitizing your hands.
"If you really need to remove it to cool off, move away from people, cool off, maybe switch the mask to a new one, and then go back,” Vanos says.
COVID-19 Screening & Testing
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ATRIUM HEALTH & NOVANT HEALTH OFFERING COVID-19 SCREENINGS & TESTING
To schedule an appointment with Atrium Health, call your Atrium Health primary care office. Don’t have a doctor? Call 704.468.888 or 704-468-8888 or request an appointment online.
Novant Health also is offering screening and testing. First, If you are concerned about coronavirus symptoms and don't have a primary care doctor, call the Novant Health helpline to determine your next steps at 877.9NOVANT. In East and West Charlotte at the following Novant Health Centers:
East Charlotte, 5501 Executive Center Drive, Screenings, 8am-noon
- East Charlotte, 5501 Executive Center Drive, 8am-noon
- Freedom Drive, 3149 Freedom Drive, Respiratory Assessments, 8am-2pm
- Novant Health GoHealth Urgent Care Centers, Weekends & Evenings
Covid-19 Screening @ FBC-West
N95 Mask Giveaway
Shout Out to John and Beverly Harrell for providing N95 Masks
for free distribution to our members.
Through a partnership with WSOC-TV & Red Lobster, we were able to serve meals to over 100 persons just as the Covid-19 quarantine was starting. Thanks WSOC-TV & Red Lobster! Click Here for photos.
FBC-W BLOOD DRIVE 3/29
YOU STEPPED UP!
WE WERE SCHEDULED TO HAVE 11 DONATIONS DURING SUNDAY'S BLOOD DRIVE
Letter From Dr. Woods
March 23, 2020
Dear Fellow Members
Greetings in the name of our risen Lord. It has been a long time since I have communicated with you by letter but I feel moved to do so in these present times. The COVIAN-19 crisis has impacted our entire country and 144 nations around the world. The church has not been immune to the effects of the virus. Our leadership made a decision early in the process to put the health and well-being of people above every other consideration. To that end we have cancelled all public worship services until further notice.
We are committed to following the directions of public health officials on social distancing and limiting all in-person meetings and gatherings at First Baptist Church–West. Note that effective Thursday, March 25, the church office is closed and all Wednesday Bible Studies are cancelled. However, each Wednesday evening we are taping a worship service that will be available on the church website each week. Last Sunday 230 persons viewed the online sermon and 320 views have been registered to date. The church website is www.fbcwest.org. I encourage you to visit the website routinely for updated information.
Starting Tuesday, March 31, we will provide a call-in conference line for weekly devotion and prayer that will last 10-15 minutes. The call number is (205) 825-9633 with no passcode needed. The call will take place at 8:15 am each Tuesday morning.
We are examining other ways to use technology as a means to stay connected as a church family and continue the work that God has given us. The church leadership is meeting by conference call each week to ensure that the church is able to meet its debt obligations and remain vibrant in these trying times.
Although we are unable to meet for public worship, I encourage you to still pray for the church and support the church with your tithes and offerings. You are able to give by mailing your contributions to the church, bringing your gifts and placing them in the mailbox near the glass doors and finally giving online at www.fbcwest.org. Your gifts are vital at this moment as we seek to not only meet our needs but support efforts in the community that assist our neighbors.
This is the time when we need the spirit of the Good Samaritan and to be the neighbor we can be and bear witness to our faith. I have always been proud and honored to serve as your pastor and I am certain that you are up to the challenge before us. So let us rise up and go to the work before us because of Him who strengthens us and has promised to be with us always.
Because of Grace,
Dr Ricky A. Woods