HONOLULU(KHON2)–More and more people are wearing masks, but do they protect against COVID-19?
Lieutenant Governor Josh Green is a doctor and the Hawaii COVID-19 Healthcare Liaison. He said not all masks are created equal, but something is still better than nothing.
“It depends which mask you’re using… If you’re using an N99 or an N95 mask, those take out 99 percent or 95 percent of the particles…those are very effective.”
But Green explained that not all masks provide that level of protection and N95 masks should be used by those who need them most especially since they are so hard to find.
“Those are really reserved for hospital use. They will protect you but we have to make sure that health care providers like nurses are using them so that they don’t have any transmission to spread to other patients.”
Green explained that not all masks provide that level of protection as he grabbed a simple, colorful cotton, ear loop mask similar in style to a surgical mask and put it on.
“This is a mask if you want to be hip and cool… it’s kind of nice cause it gives you a warm vibe and feelings but it might not actually protect you from anything much. But it is better than nothing.”
He said that he thinks everyone should wear a mask.
“I want to go on record, I’m recommending anyone who’s out there in line, any line whatsoever, please keep six feet social distance that’s totally critical and have a mask of some sort if you have it.”
Green said it’s a good idea to cover our noses and mouths with something to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“We are all doing what we can by staying home but a lot of people are still having to to go out to run a few errands or go out and provide health care. When you do, wear a mask, cover-up. And if you’re in the hospital of course wear an N95.”
Masks have been hard to find. That shortage has motivated some to spring into action.
Angie Higa owns Skydreams, a company that sells travel blankets, bags and other accessories.
Higa decided to sew masks using unused material from her business.
“I decided I wanted to use my talent to give back to the community…I am actually providing the face mask free if they could cover the cost of shipping.”
She said she posted on social media and got more than 1200 requests in three days.
“I had to put a pause on it only because I’m trying to get these out as fast as I can. I’m doing all the sewing myself and I don’t have a team of people at my workshop,” Higa explained.
She said that her masks are not N95, but she still wanted to provide some level of protection for essential workers who needed them.
“It’s very, very thoughtful for people to make (masks),” Green said.
“Over time you may see some filters in there, but this is just going to keep out the least most minimal stuff.”
Green said that wearing a mask, even a simple one, prevents you from touching your face.
“Wearing a mask makes it harder to pick your nose, and that’s a good thing,” Green joked.
Green said something is better than nothing but don’t get complacent.
“No matter what, even if you have a mask on, practice social distancing. Be six feet apart. Just because you have a mask does not mean you’re protected.”
He said it’s also important to make sure the mask fits properly and you’re wearing it correctly.
And he said, don’t ever share your mask with anyone.
KHON: “How long should people use them for?”
“It’s highly debatable right ’cause there’s so few masks out there. But if you see any breakdown in the mask you should discard it, that’s overuse. But most of those masks, the surgical masks, were meant just for a couple hours and then tossed,” Green said.
Ultimately, he said the best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus is to stay home.