OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Throughout the pandemic, health officials have stressed the importance of wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Doctors say that while they are effective, it's not enough just to put one on.
"You don’t just slap it on. You have to put it tight around your nose to prevent acquisition of the aerosol from coming from the other person who has COVID," Dr. Rudolf Kotula, an infectious disease physician at Methodist Health, said.
Masks must have two specific qualities to be effective at preventing transmission.
"Number one is what is the filtration efficiency and how many layers is the mask made of, and then the second feature is how tightly does it fit to your face. If you have a well-constructed, multiple-layer face covering that fits tightly to your face, it’s very protective," Dr. Mark Rupp, professor and chief of infectious disease at Nebraska Medical Center said.
Cloth and surgical masks both work. Some people have begun doubling up and wearing both in light of COVID variants that are now appearing. Dr. Rupp said while it's not necessary to wear both cloth and surgical masks at the same time, it can help them fit closer to your face.
Face shields are not effective in preventing transmission according to doctors because droplets can be disseminated and they provide little filtration.
Coverings such as bandannas and neck gaiters can be effective, depending on the quality.
"You can buy a lot of stuff on the internet. If this is just a thin bandanna versus something that is higher quality, it definitely makes a difference. I think it depends on who the manufacturer is, how it’s designed," Dr. Kotula said.