Health officials have been suggesting the use of face masks to prevent the spread and transmission of the coronavirus, which is quickly spreading around the globe. But the real question is do they really protect you from the virus?

The simple answer is yes, but efficacy is still not 100%. As masks sell out everywhere, it’s time to understand what they do to help.

If you decide to use a face mask, choose a NIOSH-approved N100 mask because it protects the wearer by fully covering the mouth. An N100 mask will help prevent inhalation of 99.7% of airborne germs, which means they aren’t a totally fail-proof method. N95 and N99 masks can also be effective. They are still your best bet IF you have a proper fit and it is not loose on the sides. Protection from debris and materials that are larger than 0.3 microns or greater can be achieved with both N100 and P100 respirators, as well as N95 and N99 respirators.

Since the general consensus has been that the coronavirus is expelled from an infected person and remains on dust particles and water droplets in the air, these can be effective at preventing the inhalation of infected debris as long as the fit is correct.

Also, it’s important to note that the “N” designation means that these respirators are not resistant to oil. The “P” indicates that a P100 respirator is oil proof, meaning it should also work, but may cost you a bit more. If that’s all you can find, however, it could boost your chances of not getting sick. But again, the mask needs to fit correctly and that cannot be stressed enough.

Don’t just use a mask and expect that to be enough either. Even if it’s properly worn, it’s only about 80% effective, according to doctors. Take the same precautions you would with the flu. Avoid public places and crowds, stay at least six feet away from others, and cover your cough or sneeze. Wash your hands well and sanitize the surfaces of your home frequently (bleach works well and it’s inexpensive), especially those often touched. Teach your children proper handwashing techniques and send them to school with hand sanitizer. Practice good hygiene and make sure you do the best you can to keep your immune system running on all cylinders.

If this becomes a pandemic, you’ll want to make sure you have stored extra food and water to keep from having to go to the grocery store often.

Eat right, avoid too much stress, avoid overconsumption of alcohol and nicotine, and get an adequate amount of sleep to help your immune system stay on track. The coronavirus seems to be more deadly to those with a less effective immune system, such as the elderly.

The best way to beat the coronavirus is to not get it and not spread it.


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