As some Georgia businesses reopen, everything to know about face masks

On Friday, some of Georgia’s shelter-in-place requirements will be softened, here’s what that means for wearing face masks in public

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced this week that the state would begin phase one of re-opening businesses, including salons, bowling alleys and gyms.

As Georgians begin to leave their homes again, here are some things to keep in mind to keep yourself safe.

What the CDC recommends in regards to face masks:  

Earlier this month, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made the recommendation that Americans wear face masks when going outside. The CDC says Americans should wear face masks in crowded areas where it can be hard to maintain proper social distancing.

"In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission," according to the CDC website.

How to most effectively wear a face mask:

According to the CDC, how a face mask fits make a difference. Here are some tips on how to make sure it is most effective. A face mask ought to:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Where to get a mask and the differences in the kinds of masks: 

In the United States, there has been a shortage of N95 respirator masks, which has prompted many people to make homemade masks to sell or donate to front-line workers in need. Officials say that the surgical masks must be reserved for healthcare workers and that cloth face coverings suffice for everyday citizens.

"The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance," according to the CDC.

What are the benefits of wearing a mask?

According to experts, a mask is more to protect the people around you, than yourself because they can reduce the number of particles passed between people.

The masks are "meant to help block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays, or splatter that may contain germs (viruses and bacteria), keeping it from reaching your mouth and nose," according to the FDA website

"It's not going to protect you, but it is going to protect your neighbor," Dr. Daniel Griffin at Columbia University, an expert on infectious diseases, told NPR. "If your neighbor is wearing a mask and the same thing happens, they're going to protect you. So masks worn properly have the potential to benefit people."

Who should wear a mask?

According to the CDC, "Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance."

"Kids are much more likely to be asymptotic carriers or presymptomatic carriers, so ... we do a lot of good when we say, 'Hey, in addition to washing your hands, and please stop licking things, we'd also like you to wear a mask,'" Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a family physician and youth development speaker, told Today Parents. "We really want to slow and stop the spread of this, and we're seeing in data from other countries that kids are actively involved, entirely accidentally, in spreading this."

How can you make your own mask?

A homemade mask can be made out of a scarf or T-shirt or another type of fabric you already have at home, no sewing required. See the video below for an example from the CDC.

Should you wear a mask while going on walks and runs?

For the most part, experts agree: If you’re going to be in a crowded area outside, you should wear a mask regardless of what you’re doing, including exercising.

"The purpose of the mask is not to protect you, but to protect other people from you," professor Brian Labus told Runner's World. "If that is the goal, going out solo and avoiding other people altogether is the best thing you can do."