Why masks, and do they help stop the spread of COVID-19?

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 8:06 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Masks. Do they work, how often should I be washing them and do they really help stop the spread of COVID-19? Here’s what Medical Director at Alaska Regional Hospital, Dr. David Scordino said.

Scordino knows first hand that wearing a mask isn’t the most comfortable thing to do. He wears one for 10 hours a day working in the emergency room department at the hospital.

“I’m aware they get a little hot and they’re not the best," he said.

But research has grown in support of wearing the masks.

“Unfortunately I don’t think most people understand science evolves as our knowledge evolves and because of that they point at that and say, ‘Oh they’re not necessary.’ As we’ve spent time in this pandemic and done more research, we found that they can be really helpful, and just like science is meant to it changes as such the recommendations need to change," Scordino explained.

Scordino said it’s important to wear a mask properly by covering both the nose and mouth.

“I don’t know why you would think part of your respiratory tract can be just unexposed and that somehow, that mask is still effective. If it’s not worn properly, it’s not helping," he said.

It’s also not a good idea to keep masks hanging on a visor and we should be washing them after a day of use.

“You go home, you throw it in the wash because if you’re letting that just sit there and then the next day you put it back on, that’s covered in any viruses you’re exposed to, it’s covered in germs right, you need to wash that thing," he said.

Scordino said most cloth masks are fine and the N95s are probably overkill if you’re not going to be working in the hospital or a COVID-19 unit. He also said finding a mask that fits right for you may take some trial and error.

“If you want to maximize the benefit of this, you need to use your mask properly and effectively," he added.

Scordino is exposed all the time and has the potential to be an asymptomatic carrier, which is why he said a little inconvenience is his way of leading by example.

“I take that very seriously and I try and protect my community by wearing my mask and I just hope they’d be willing to do the same thing,” he said.

In Anchorage, masks are required in certain indoor settings.

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