Epidemiologist: Face masks should have two layers of protection

Posted at 9:56 AM, May 19, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KTMV) — Local and national health experts say everyone should wear a face mask when out in public, but not all face masks are created equal.

The best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 is to wear a 2-3 layer face mask when in public.

"We know that COVID-19 can be spread by people who might not yet show symptoms," said Dr. Anne O'Keefe, senior epidemiologist at the Douglas County Health Department. "They might be incubating it, and the symptoms have not shown up yet. You can spread just by talking and singing near someone even before you get symptoms."

The mask should be snug and completely cover your nose and mouth, with no gaps.

The CDC has billboards encouraging people to stay at home if they are sick along with their website that is full of coronavirus safety information, including how to make your own mask.

"You can make your own face mask out of an old t-shirt," says U.S. surgeon general Dr. Jerome Adams. "Fold it to the middle from the bottom, fold it to the middle from the top, fold it again from the bottom. Put rubber bands on both ends, then fold both sides to the middle and you have yourself a cloth face covering; it's that easy."

Some are making wearing a mask fun by using it to make a fashion statement.

Some are adding bling and representing their favorite sports team.

"You can make statements, use fun fabrics," said O'Keefe. "But what you are doing is protecting other people."

If you do have a cloth mask, remember you have to wash it on a regular basis. For those who prefer the disposable masks, replacing them can be costly so people are re-using them.

Dr. O'Keefe says you can reuse them but it can't be dirty. You have to wash or sanitize your hands before and after touching it.

Try to only handle it by the sides, store it in a clean bag, and remember these have a bar inside that you have to bend to shape it to your face so you won't have any gaps.