SAN ANTONIO – Sewing machines are humming now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention switched its guidelines to advise people to wear a face mask when going out in public. But wearing or handling a face mask incorrectly may do more harm than good, according to medical experts.
Masks are hard to come by in stores, so many people are making them out of tightly woven cotton, flannel or dish towels. And if you can’t sew, you can create one out of a T-shirt and rubber bands, as the U.S. Surgeon General demonstrated on Twitter.
Cloth masks may not be medical grade, but they can help, according to Dr. Alison Haddock with Baylor College of Medicine. She spoke with KPRC-TV in Houston about key mistakes to avoid.
“The COVID virus is spread by droplets. It’s spread when we cough or sneeze or even talk. A droplet from one person gets transmitted to another person,” said Haddock.
She said she sees people not wearing the mask over both their nose and mouth all the time. Instead, she said she sees people moving the mask to talk.
"If you are wearing the mask like this so that it’s only covering your mouth, then you are missing out on an opportunity to block it from transmitting the virus,” she explained. “If you are wearing the mask around your chin and then pulling it up. Bringing it down, that’s a problem too. All of that touching of the mask allows getting droplets from the mask on your hands, then transmit them to yourself.”
You may see people removing their masks once they get in their car. Haddock advises it’s best to wait until you get in your home.
“I put it on before I leave my house. That way, I know my hands are totally clean when I put it on,” said Haddock. “Then, when I get home, taking it off completely using the ties in the back, not touching this part that has been touching my hands my mouth.”