How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

How Important Is It To Wear a Mask? title=
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?
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By Dr. Henning Ansorg, M.D., FACP, Health Officer, County of Santa Barbara Public Health Department

Are You Wearing Your Mask Correctly?

Of all the things you can do right now to protect yourself and others from getting the Coronavirus, wearing a face covering properly tops the list.  Why? Because wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth goes a long way towards preventing infectious particles from infecting another person.

Here’s How it Works:

COVID-19 spreads from person to person. An infectious person expels infectious particles while sneezing, talking, laughing, yelling, coughing or singing. An infectious person can even spread infectious particles just by breathing. 

The louder you talk, the more droplets you spread to others. Coughing emits more infectious particles than talking, and sneezing is even worse. Since many people with COVID-19 never show symptoms, many people are infected that may not know it. Wearing a mask limits the spread of potentially infectious particles.

Wearing a face covering does not just help others – it limits your own exposure, too. According to a study in Hong Kong, wearing a mask in public was effective for the SARS coronavirus (a virus very similar to the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19). The study found that people who frequently wore a mask in public were half as likely to be infected. 

How Important is Wearing a Mask Correctly? VERY!

Masks work – if worn properly.  Your best bet is a double-layered cotton mask which will block 70% of infectious particles (respiratory droplets), if worn properly. Be sure that your mask covering your mouth and nose. To prevent spreading infectious particles, keep your mask over your mouth and nose. If you drop your mask to talk, you will spread droplets. If you are having trouble making yourself heard through the mask, speak up. It is not helpful to bring your mask to an event and then wear it around your neck.

Do not touch the front of your mask. By touching the front of your mask, you might infect yourself. Do not touch the front of your mask while you’re wearing it. After taking your mask off, it’s still not safe to touch the front of it. Once you have washed the mask in a normal washing machine, the mask is safe to wear again. 

Can masks cause carbon dioxide poisoning?

Absolutely not, although you may have heard that wearing a mask may cause carbon dioxide poisoning. The face mask might hold a very small amount of carbon dioxide, but the carbon dioxide can pass through the holes on the sides and even the pores of the material itself. Humans inhale trace amounts of carbon dioxide all day long and suffer no issues.

An extremely high level of carbon dioxide would need to build up to cause a problem. So no, wearing a mask should not cause carbon dioxide poisoning. 

What Else do I Need to do to Prevent Getting the Virus?

In addition to wearing a face mask, be aware of your surroundings and use good sense. Encourage smart COVID-19 prevention practices that include:

  • Maintaining six feet of separation from others when you can
  • Washing your hands with soap and water frequently.
  • Avoid touching your face
  • If you are not feeling well, protect others from COVID-19 by staying home 


So How do I Correctly Wear a Face Mask?
Here are some simple “Do’s and Don’ts” to keep in mind:


  • Wash mask after use in hot water and dry thoroughly
  • Wash hands for 20 second prior to putting on and after taking off your mask
  • Still practice social distancing when wearing a mask
  • Make sure it fits snugly but comfortably against the side of your face
  • Make sure it covers your mouth and nose


  • Touch or adjust the mask once it is on your face, this can cause contamination 
  • Wear it longer than four hours when possible
  • Take the mask on and off – once on, leave on
  • Touch your eyes, nose or mouth when removing the mask
  • Place on young children under the age of two


For more information about how you can prevent getting and spreading the coronavirus and what steps the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department is taking to protect our communities, please visit:

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Show Comments
ginger1 Aug 13, 2020 10:21 AM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Congrats to Dr. Ansorg for finally getting something right. Seriously. He's spent 5 months making mistakes and tellin

ginger1 Aug 13, 2020 10:31 AM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

"telling us sometimes incorrect stuff" and this on masks is a good thing. What he forgot to include is the wearing a mask while walking alone with no one around within distancing distance or while driving alone in a car is pointless. Additionally, data released the other day indicates that using a bandana or neck scarf is not only useless but actually worse than not wearing a mask at all. Just like pulling it down to "adjust it" or to speak. Here's the link:

Chip of SB Aug 13, 2020 10:50 AM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Good point about wearing a mask when alone. Not only does it do no good whatsoever, it has the potential to concentrate virus particles, transfer them to the hands when adjusting the mask, and then transfer them to surfaces and onto other people’s hands. Masks may block some particles under laboratory conditions, but what is their efficacy in reducing transmission of the virus under typical real world conditions?

a-1597341687 Aug 13, 2020 11:01 AM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Yup, totally agree GINGER, about time the doctor came around to reality. Now, the post title could use some work. It is not and should not be a question, ever, for the risk of how covidiots will interpret. Masks are important, plain and simple.

pstarSR Aug 13, 2020 12:23 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Ginger, claiming "some" face coverings are worse than not wearing one at all is completely false. dont spread mis information. A face covering, even in it simplest form will help stop some droplets from transmitting to the air. there are lots of articles from lots of "places" that like to debunk masks, well because people seem to want to fight it. But more than a few scientist, and FAMOUS ones, like Bill Nye the science guy. Show that face coverings regardless of the construction can and do help. they are NOT all the same, and not all work as well. but they will hinder droplet transmission into the air. And again, this is where the details come in. you are wearing the mask for BOTH parties. not just yourself. So if both parties are wearing a mask, even a "sub-par" one like you said, the protection is still greater than not wearing one at all.

dw2000 Aug 13, 2020 02:52 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Mask Test:

I keep a mask around my neck when I jog and as I see people further ahead, I pull it up. After several meters clearance, I pull it down again. I jog a 6 mile circuit and no joke probably pass about 100 or more people each time. I would say 50% wear masks.

Ahchooo Aug 13, 2020 02:57 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

A study just came out saying that neck gaiters are worse than nothing because they cause expelled droplets to be made smaller, and thus aeresol-ized. Double or triple-layer cotton is good, in comparison, because the cotton catches the droplets. But the synthetic neck gaiters don’t stop the droplets, and make them smaller and lightweight, which is bad. We keep learning more as these things are studied.

macpuzl Aug 13, 2020 03:02 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Except the study was not definitive, since only one gaiter-style mask was tested.

Chip of SB Aug 13, 2020 10:37 AM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Interesting how he notes that if you touch the front of your mask, you might infect yourself. Makes sense. The mask is a filter, and if it works it will concentrate whatever it’s filtering. How many people actually refrain from touching the front of their mask? What are the implications for food service workers? Has anyone studied typical mask usage and how often people touch the front of their mask? I think it would be really interesting to do a study on this. I would suggest applying an invisible dye that fluoresces under UV light to the front of people’s masks. Then after some period of time, bring out a UV light and see how many surfaces were potentially contaminated.

ginger1 Aug 13, 2020 11:08 AM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Actually, that exact testing has been done. Here's one link to video from Rush University Medical Center. As far as your question about efficacy of reducing virus transmission in the real world. yes, absolutely masks do work. Plenty of global examples. But there's an important caveat: they have to be actual particulate filter masks, fitted correctly (like sealed to your face) and NOT continually handled. How many people actually do that?

a-1597349799 Aug 13, 2020 01:16 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

The old rule was keep your own fingers out of your nose, mouth and eyes. Otherwise you can self-inoculate yourself with whatever you recently touched. That was back in the days of common sense infection control. That rule still holds true, and not just for "covid" conerns. But for any potential pathogen from noro-virus to common colds. Keep your fingers out of your own mouth, nose and eyes., unless you just scrupulously cleaned them. Needless to say, tell others to keep their fingers out of your own mouth, nose and eyes too.

sacjon Aug 13, 2020 11:08 AM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

I think most people would be surprised how easy it is to make your mask ineffective, I know I was. We need to spread this info on a larger scale. Simply telling people to "wear a mask," will in most cases, do no good. I see people touching their masks, taking them on and off, etc. If these seemingly innocuous gestures are actually endangering the wearer, they should know. Then again, how to we effectively instruct the masses on how to properly wear and maintain a mask. This is not easy stuff. I can see how people could easily become infected while thinking they're doing the right thing.

Chip of SB Aug 13, 2020 12:46 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

I looked up the timeline on face covering recommendations since the virus started and I think it’s very interesting. In March, our public health experts urged the public not to wear face coverings due to doubts about their effectiveness and concerns about misuse. By May, the experts reversed their position and Ansorg issued an order mandating face coverings in SB county. The order cited scarves, bandanas, neck gaiters, homemade coverings, and masks that need not be medical grade as examples of acceptable face coverings. We were told face coverings, punishing business closures, and strict distancing measures were essential to save lives. Shortly thereafter well over 1000 scientists and public health experts signed an open letter endorsing mass protests and rioting as a benefit to public safety. Today, the latest studies have show that bandanas and neck gaiters are actually more harmful than not wearing a mask at all. Don’t be surprised if this comes full circle and there is a new order within a couple months outlawing face coverings once enough new research shows they actually do more harm than good. This order will probably come just in time for Halloween, and will include a ban on Halloween costumes based on the newfound dangers of face coverings.

ginger1 Aug 13, 2020 01:24 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

You need to stop obsessing on what was and focus on what is. The county health dept, not to mention the state, has made tons of mistakes and reported misinformation over and over again. Forget the case numbers. They are absolutely meaningless when not viewed in the context of what they are. Even then, still almost worthless. It's all the media has to use to scare you. Witness the people wandering around wearing two face masks at the same time, a plastic face shield, AND gloves. Or PPE'd, walking alone on their street. Why are they even out of their homes?

The "rules" keep changing. But there are certain truths as exemplified in the rest of the world. So go with what we know to be true: don't cough or spit on your neighbor. Keep a 6ft (more or less---it's 4 ft in EU) away from others and wear a mask when you out among your neighbors, especially indoors, and cannot. Keep your friggin hands off your mask. If you just can't or don't have a proper mask and can't use it properly, don't be around others. If you feel sick, stay home. That applies *always*. Wash or disinfect your hands. A lot. It really is that simple. This will all be over soon. I heard that on TV.

SantaBarbaraObserver Aug 13, 2020 02:23 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Chip, you should try and find some other avenues for validation. Trying to find a few other outliers to help you feel better, isnt helping turn the tides. The mask issue is a dead horse, toothpaste out of the tube, cow outta the barn situation... The facts are in, the studies in place, the science solid. In the beginning, there was not enough PPE for the medical staff, and the number of infections were still low. So the CDC (wisely) decided to not recommend masks so that the idiots-at-large wouldn't hoard the supply. You know, like they did with toilet paper and canned soup???? Since then, we've learned a lot. Mostly that the POTUS is a complete and total moron and that partisan politics has eaten the brains of at least 30% of the population . You do realize that there are people who actually believe the earth is flat? Maybe you're one of those too... Dunno, but give the mask thing a rest. You lost. You're wrong. You will change no one's mind but your own. Give that a try. It will open up so many new worlds for you, if you're willing.

Annie Bananny Aug 13, 2020 03:31 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

It seems stupid to go through the effort of putting out this information about masks...and have one with a valve or vent in the photo. These do not stop transfer of the virus! They are meant for dust. This is not even mentioned under the "do not" list, so it looks like they're just fine. They are not allowed many places, including on most airlines.

RHS Aug 13, 2020 04:26 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Among the major failures of the current response to this crisis is the lack of production of N95 masks that are effective beyond doubt. They protect both the wearer and those near. In a rational world EVERY ONE would have access to an N95 mask and we would not be told we should settle for band aid approaches. The cost of supplying these devices to all who wanted them would be minuscule compared to the cost of treating those infected. We are building ventilators at impressive rate and they cost thousands of dollars each. Is that the motivating determinate?

Ahchooo Aug 13, 2020 04:32 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

If we had a sensible government the appropriate agencies would have moved heaven and earth to manufacture good N95 masks and supply them to every person in the country as soon as feasible.

SantaBarbaraObserver Aug 13, 2020 05:08 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Its important to note that the fiber material used to make the N95 is limited in supply and the capacity of the factories that produce the fiber have been at max since Jan or before... So we're months away from being able to supply the country's needs. Perhaps, if the Orange Orangutan hadn't disbanded the pandemic response team, tossed out the handbook, ignored all scientists and experts while instead opting for FoxNews propaganda and snake oil, we might be a months ahead... But instead we have the dumbest, least capable, most inept, ignorant, bumbling fool at the helm and so in his famous words: "It is what it is"...

Bene Aug 13, 2020 07:32 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Agreed RHS. Completely reprehensible that emergency measures weren't employed to address the fact that all people need access to better protection.

a-1597445993 Aug 14, 2020 03:59 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Interesting point about the price margin between ventilators and N95s... Agree that N95s production should be increased. Maybe even distributed as they were during the recent fires.

sandy1 Aug 14, 2020 06:51 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

$15,000 for average medical grade home ventilator , then add a Pulmonologist to write the prescription and a Respiratory Therapist to program and monitor and it add up fast, N-95 Mask not so much.

Exception66 Aug 13, 2020 06:13 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy:

Bene Aug 13, 2020 07:28 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

The rule about not taking your mask off from the front should include the common sense fact that if you DO take it off by the front, you aren't going to get infected if you just immediately wash your hands.

a-1597376245 Aug 13, 2020 08:37 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Goal post change alert: For all true believers, 100% of the population should have been given personally fitted N-95 masks. Yesterday. Several of them and sterilization chambers for re-use. Yesterday.

Watcher237 Aug 14, 2020 06:07 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

Sounds like we're all just a bunch of creepy dirt-bags! Ah well... now we know the truth! If you really want to feel protected, let me suggest you put on your face mask and go our for a drive. Alone. Windows up, of course! Just don't touch yourself or you'll ruin everything!

Minibeast Aug 14, 2020 07:05 PM
How Important Is It To Wear a Mask?

WATCHER237 AUG 14, 2020 06:07 PM Oh, yeah, well try and stop me.

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