WesTex Wednesday: Wearing masks effectively

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ODESSA (Big 2/Fox 24) – There has been a spike in Coronavirus cases across the Basin, and we’ve seen town and county leaders discuss whether mask mandates would be a viable option. We want to make sure you have accurate information about the best kinds of masks to use and their effectiveness. As part of WesTex Wednesday, Doctor Terry Beck tells us that the N-95 mask is the best to protect you and your loved ones. 

“The N-95 masks are the ones that can filter out the viral particles, they can filter down to point 3 microns, which is smaller than the viral particles, so those are the most effective masks. ”

There was a nationwide shortage of N-95 masks when COVID-19 first spread here in the U.S.. Doctor Beck says most hospitals are supplied with those types of masks now, but it doesn’t hurt to check with your local hospital or clinic to see if they’re low. He stresses buying a couple of these masks for your family should be alright. No matter what kind of mask you use, you should make sure it’s clean, and that you’re not overusing it. 

“With the N-95 masks, 2 days of pretty solid use is about the maximum you can get. The filters on the inside will start to wear down and be less effective. They can be cleaned, but they can’t be washed. N-95 masks can be cleaned with UV radiation or UV light, and  be recycled one or two times. Cloth masks probably should be washed every other day, and surgical masks should probably just be used one day at a time. They don’t last as long because they’re just not as high of quality.” 

When you use a surgical masks–the thin coverings that are disposable– it should be stored in a brown paper bag and closed so that it won’t get contaminated. Doctor Beck says this type of mask is not as effective as others, but it still helps.

“A surgical mask is not necessarily going to prevent the spread of the virus but it will prevent, or at least decrease, the spread of respiratory droplets. And that’s how the virus transmits into the atmosphere, sometimes just breathing, or especially if they cough or sneeze, the surgical mask will at least trap some of those respiratory droplets that have viral particles on them. ” 

 There are people in the community who do not want to wear masks because they feel they don’t need to, or they think it disturbs their personal freedom. Doctor Beck warns there are businesses that have the right to deny you service or entry into their store. 

“At our office, we require patients to wear a mask, and we require that for not only their protection, but protection of other people. Honestly, again I know there are people I’ve heard of, people talking about relating articles that masks don’t work, masks don’t do any good . I don’t believe that, I believe they do some good.”


Doctor Beck says wearing any mask is better than no mask. He also stresses the most important part of using a mask is  that you wear it properly, because if it doesn’t fit properly or if you don’t wear it properly, then it can’t be effective. 

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