Disciplined Mask Use Encouraged to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 in Ohio


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With the end of the COVID-19 pandemic nowhere in sight, some Ohio health experts say discipline is crucial to reduce the spread of the virus.

Dr. Odell Owens, president and CEO of Interact for Health, encouraged Ohioans to continue to follow three key safety measures: 6-feet social distancing; frequent hand washing; and wearing a mask.

However, Owens said masks are only effective when used correctly. His advice is to only touch the straps when taking a mask on or off, put the mask in a bag when not in use, and disinfect your hands if you need to touch the mask.

"Take it off, then quickly disinfect your hands, do what you have to do, and then you're going to put it back on and disinfect your hands again," Owens explained. "The whole key is not allowing the virus on your hands and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth."

Masks also should fit properly, and always cover the face from the bridge of the nose to the chin.

There is mounting evidence supporting the effectiveness of universal mask wearing to reduce transmission of COVID-19. And a survey released this week found a majority of Ohio economists believe the long-term economic benefits of Ohio's mask mandate outweigh the costs.

Owens said cloth masks provide better protection than disposable paper masks, and can easily be made out of a T-shirt at home. He added a cloth mask must be washed after each use.

"I've seen some really well-made cloth masks that could probably survive 15 to 20 washings, and I've seen some cloth masks that may only survive two or three washings," Owens said. "But I think you're better off gently washing them in the sink, using the soap and water and then putting them in the dryer."

Disposable masks should be thrown away after one use. Scarves or handkerchiefs are not recommended to wear as a mask because they are too porous to offer adequate protection.

Ohio's mask mandate began on July 23, and is not expected to be lifted anytime soon.

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