COVID-19 outbreaks are common in factories, churches, exercise classes, schools, camps, bars and restaurants. There are three main reasons for these outbreaks: 1) time spent indoors, 2) poor air flow, and 3) not wearing masks. Every time you sing, talk, cough and breathe, you release tiny particles in the air (invisible aerosols). These aerosols can travel beyond 6 feet and stay floating in the air for hours. This is not so much of a problem outside, where they quickly go away. However, these aerosols build up over time when indoors. This is why masks are so important in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Masks capture a large number of these aerosols as soon as they leave one’s mouth. This limits how much virus is emitted into the room. According to one study, a simple, homemade mask is about 50% effective, depending on what fabric is used. A blue surgical mask is likely to be 60-80% efficient. For maximum protection, you can wear a cloth mask over a surgical mask. Alone, masks are not a magic bullet. Together, wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing can reduce the spread of the virus. Masks may also help reduce the severity of disease. Studies show that the amount of virus you breathe in is related to how sick you may get from COVID-19. Masks can not always eliminate all the risk, but they can reduce how much virus enters your body. Overall, wearing masks, increasing the distance between people and improving air flow indoors can effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19.
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