How Much Does a Mask Protect You?


Photo Courtesy of The Today Show

Nick Pallaria

How much does a mask protect you? I bet everybody wants to know how much a mask really keeps you from getting COVID. There are many types of masks but people all over the world say that some types are better than others. But how do we even know if they help or hurt us. That is the real question. 

CDC says to have two or more layers of breathable washable fabric. Another opinion is to completely cover your nose and mouth. The third opinion is to make sure your mask fits snugly against the sides of your face and doesn’t have gaps. Which now brings me to the last opinion, you should have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask. These are all good options that the CDC puts out to help you to know what you should and should not do. But these are all just suggestions to educate you about how to properly wear one. 

What we want to know is how effective they really are. According to Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H., an expert in infection prevention from John Hopkins masks do help. She states that “Face masks help contain respiratory droplets that can transmit SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, from people who do not know they have the virus.” She also states that “A mask can also be somewhat effective in preventing germs from getting into your nose and mouth that come from another person’s respiratory droplets.” Somewhat effective, so does this mean kind of or not very well? Somewhat protective is not what people want to hear about protection from getting the virus. For the people that do not like wearing masks this is what they would want to hear. Somewhat is not good enough. It is the same as saying it kind of works. 

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “They say that inhaling high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) may be life-threatening. Hypercapnia (carbon dioxide toxicity) can also cause headache, vertigo, double vision, inability to concentrate, tinnitus (hearing a noise, like a ringing or buzzing, that’s not caused by an outside source), seizures, or suffocation due to displacement of air.”  They do not recommend tight fitting masks like N95’s  for people who have lung issues.  

The whole mask issue has two sides, good and bad. After my research I found out that there is still no real answer. With or without a mask they also still recommend social distancing, hand sanitizer, and washing your hands. It is really still unknown how much they help. Each individual can have their own opinion.