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Why it's still important to wear a face mask

Homemade face masks

April 2020: Mason City High School sophomore Lainna Duncan donated these homemade face masks to Good Shepherd Health Center.

Along with grabbing your wallet and keys, grabbing a face mask before leaving the house has fast become a familiar act.

In North Iowa, the face mask trend seems to have taken on varying success. You could enter one business and see most people wearing masks, then enter another in which hardly anyone is wearing one. 

On Friday, we published Cerro Gordo's daily Joint Information Center update, which reminded the public to continue wearing face masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 — even if you feel healthy.

The purpose of doing so is to limit the chances that you will spread the virus to another person. Even if you aren't experiencing symptoms, you could still be unknowingly carrying the virus, which could spread to a vulnerable person.

By wearing a mask, you're protecting others around you by limiting the water droplets you spread while speaking, sneezing, coughing or breathing. These acts can emit thousands of water droplets invisible to the eye, which can settle on surfaces or linger in the air awhile, which others may come into contact with. By maintaining social distancing, you're further reducing the risk of exchanging water droplets with others.

Per the JIC, an effective cloth mask should:

  • cover both your nose and your mouth
  • fit snugly but comfortably
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

If you can blow out a candle while wearing your mask, or can hold your hand in front of it and still feel your breath through it, your mask is too thin.

Cloth masks should be washed daily with soap or detergent. Hot water alone may not kill the virus, but detergent can get through the virus's oily envelope that encases coronavirus.

If you are needing a mask, see if family or friends could make one for you, or if they know someone who could. You could also make your own. All you need is a T-shirt and scissors or just a bandana.

Tutorials abound online; just make sure the mask you end up with meets the guidelines above. As previously noted by the JIC in our Friday paper, some stores like Menards or Larson’s Mercantile have face masks, but availability can vary depending on demand.

Ultimately, wearing a mask when you're in public is an act of care and consideration for other people. When it comes to limiting the spread of droplets, a mask meeting the guidelines above is far better than no mask at all.

For more information on using cloth face masks, visit:


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