5 mistakes doctors say you're probably making wearing your cloth face mask

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Posted at 1:33 AM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 07:37:01-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Across the country, community leaders are asking people to cover their faces to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, doctors say many people are not wearing them correctly.

Dr. Doug Ross, Chief Medical Officer at AdventHealth in Tampa, said the importance of wearing a mask is really to protect others from you.

"We don't know who has (the) coronavirus because there's plenty of people who are asymptomatic carrying the virus," Ross said. "By wearing a mask, you are protecting others from you."

Ross said the mask traps droplets coming in and out of your mouth, which is where the virus is carried.

"So when I wear the mask, the mask traps those droplets before they get out in front of you, and protects people from getting infected," Ross said.

To help you stop the spread of infection, Ross shared some of the top mistakes people are making when wearing their cloth face masks or single-use masks.

Cover both your nose and mouth

Ross said he's seen many people wearing masks just covering either their nose or mouth. Ross said it needs to cover both to keep you and others safe.

Keep it snug to your face

It should be comfortable and breathable, but also not loose or baggy. Do not wear it loose around your neck or on one ear and then pull it on.

Don't touch the front of your face mask

This includes taking it on and off while walking around or pulling it down to talk to someone.

Make sure you start with a clean face mask, every single time.

"Cleaning is very simple and can be done in your washing machine with your regular wash," Ross said. "It's been shown to be very effective and taking care of the virus."

Also, make sure single-use masks are put in the garbage after one use.

They can't be sanitized and are likely carrying germs if worn several times. The same thing goes for disposable gloves! They go in the garbage after one use.

Start with clean hands

Before putting on a mask, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash with soap and water. Ross said that is key in ensuring the mask is as germ-free as possible.

Check out the World Health Organization guidelines on mask-wearing, including how to safely put on and take off your mask.

Click here for the Centers for Disease Control Recommendations regarding the use of cloth face coverings, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.