Donna Barron, RN | Health matters: Top 8 reasons to wear a face mask
When you ask people why they wear their mask or cloth face covering, you get lots of different answers, and with good reason. We are all individuals living in different circumstances. The good news is that any reason is the right reason to wear a mask. Here are the top responses to the question, "Why do you mask?"
To keep myself well. People often say things like, "I can't afford to get sick." Which is true. No one can afford to get sick with a potentially fatal disease. Even a few weeks of illness creates huge inconveniences and financial distress for many. While we know that masks actually protect people who come into contact with the wearer more than the wearer themselves, wearing a mask sets a good example and encourages others to wear masks too. That means everyone is less likely to get ill.
To keep my friends and neighbors safe. That's right. Your mask protects others from any infection you may be unknowingly carrying. It protects anyone that you come into contact with, including grocery store workers, fellow shoppers, family, and friends. Many note that they wear their masks particularly to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities, including the elderly and those with conditions that put them at higher risk.
It is so easy. Wearing a mask, for most people, is as easy a thing as could possibly be accomplished. It is a small thing that makes a big difference. If you're having difficulty finding a mask, a handkerchief or other improvised face covering is better than nothing.
It's a form of self-expression. For those artistic folks among us, a mask presents a whole new opportunity to introduce fun colors and patterns to their wardrobe.
For healthcare workers and first responders. As someone who works in a hospital, I love this reason for wearing a mask. Even if you never come into direct contact with a hospital worker or first responder, your mask shows them you care. You are keeping them safe by limiting the spread of illness in your community. We appreciate it!
To get back to business. Right on. The more people wear masks, the fewer cases there will be. And when cases are fewer, we can get back to doing the things that make our lives healthy and productive, like going back to work and back to school. We'll also have easier access to the services we rely on, which is good for our neighbors' livelihoods and our economy overall.
To get back to fun. Masks lessen cases. The more of us wear masks, the sooner we will be able to do things like visit friends, go to movies, travel where we want, and eat out safely. It's a way to show your support for good times ahead.
To embrace the new normal. Showing yourself in your mask helps normalize it for people who are still uncomfortable with wearing theirs. Before long, when everyone has a mask on, it's no longer unusual. You may even stop noticing altogether. Until, you see someone without a mask, which will seem out of place.
What's your reason? Show your support for mask wearing by sharing it with a photo of you in your mask publicly on social media. When you use these hashtags — #SVHC #MasksOnVT and #WearingisCaring — the Vermont Department of Health and SVHC will share your post to help raise awareness of the shift towards mask wearing. Thanks for your support.
Donna Barron, RN, is the infection preventionist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.
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