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Ask An Expert: COVID-19 and the importance of wearing a mask

Your mask helps protect those around you

Sponsored by OneOahu.org

The CDC says COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets, so wearing a mask helps to protect those around you. HI Now host Kainoa Carlson spoke to Dr. Akolea Ioane, a family medicine physician at Straub Medical Center, to learn more about the importance of wearing a mask.

Respiratory droplets travel into the air when you cough, sneeze, talk, shout, or sing. These droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people who are near you or they may breathe these droplets in. Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.

The CDC advises people to wear a mask even if they don’t feel sick. This is because several studies have found that people with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still spread the virus to other people. The main function of wearing a mask is to protect those around you, in case you are infected but not showing symptoms.

It is especially important to wear a mask when you are unable to stay at least 6 feet apart from others since COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).

Everyone 2 years of age and older should wear a mask in public settings and when they are around people who do not live in their household. It’s also important to wear a mask when caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19 (whether at home or in a non-healthcare setting). If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you may have COVID-19, wear a mask when you need to be around other people or animals, even in your own home.

CDC recognizes there are specific instances when wearing a mask may not be feasible. In these instances, consider adaptations and alternatives.