Are you wearing it right? Cleveland Clinic doctor answers 15 common questions about properly handling face masks

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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — A mask mandate goes into effect for the state of Ohio Thursday, which means if Ohioans are out in public, they should be wearing a face covering.

But there are a lot of questions out there about them from how they should be properly worn to how they should be cleaned.

Dr. Raed Dweik, chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Respiratory Institute, tried to answer some of the most common questions and gave us some tips on proper mask-wearing.

1.) How do masks help prevent us from spreading germs? Masks are part of a package with social distancing and frequent washing of hands — “the combination reduces the spread of coronavirus in any community.”

2.) Do masks protect me from catching coronavirus? Masks are not good at protecting an individual, but they are good at protecting others. If one coughs or sneezes, the germs are caught by their mask. There is also evidence that masks remind you to social distance and not touch your face, which is one of the major ways the virus is spread.

“The most benefit we get is if we all wear masks. I protect you, you protect me, we protect each other.”

3.) Does it matter what the mask is made of or how it’s designed? “Honestly, it doesn’t matter as long as you wear a mask. That’s the important thing. As long as it’s secure and tight, it doesn’t matter.”

4.) How do you properly wear a mask? Find something that’s comfortable and that works for you. It has to cover your nose, mouth and chin. If it doesn’t, it’s not as effective. It must be secure and reasonably tight.

5.) Can my mask make me sick? Most likely the germs that are on your mask are your own. You’re not very likely, unless you touch someone with your mask, to get germs on it from other people.

6.) How often should I clean my mask? We recommend you wash every day or so. You can hand wash or put in the laundry.

7.) Is it OK to touch your mask once it’s on your face? It’s best not to touch it unless you’ve recently washed your hands or sanitized them, because you don’t know what your hands have touched. But — touching your mask is less of a problem than touching your eyes or mouth.

8.) I wear glasses; how can I prevent my glasses from fogging up? It happens to me, too. The best way is to tighten it around your nose to prevent air/condensation from going up, and instead go sideways and down.

9.) Can I be closer to others if I’m wearing a mask? No. It does protect, but it’s not enough by itself.

10.) Does wearing a mask prevent you from getting the proper amount of oxygen? That’s definitely not the case. Wearing a mask is definitely not recommended when you are working out because you’re breathing harder and deeper. But under normal circumstances, it does not prevent you from getting oxygen.

11.) Are there situations where I don’t have to wear a mask? As long as you are far away from people, you don’t need to wear a mask especially if you are outdoors. You can take a break from your mask if you’re in your car by yourself!

12.) Do masks build up carbon dioxide? No, that is not the case, even with cloth masks. Even with N-95 masks, they do not build up that much carbon dioxide.

13.) How do you handle masks when at restaurants when you need to take them off to eat and drink? What is recommended is folding the mask in a way that the outside parts don’t touch the inside parts. A good suggestion is to take a Ziploc bag to store and place the mask inside until you’re ready to wear it.

13.) Are shields as effective? Shields are becoming a good option with those not comfortable with masks. They are protective as well. The key is protecting the eyes, the nose and the mouth. The shield has an extra benefit of protecting the eyes.

14.) Are masks with filters more effective? You just want a simple barrier. Don’t waste money on these extra attachments.

15.) What’s your most important recommendation? “This is an important message: please wear your masks, wash your hands and stay away from crowds.”

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