MIAMI – When it comes to “mask etiquette,” the message has been confusing from the start when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initially said only people who were sick with COVID-19 needed to wear one.
Dr. Bindu Mayi, Professor of Microbiology at Nova Southeastern University, said the mixed messages come from the fact that this virus isn’t like anything we’ve seen before.
“Yes, it’s a coronavirus and we’ve seen coronavirus before, but this is different and it’s the first time we’re seeing it, and so much is changing in real time. We’re learning so much about the virus and how it transmits, how it affects the body, what we need to to do prevent it, and all of this in real time,” she said.
Many states, including Florida, are now issuing not just recommendations but specific requirements for wearing a mask.
In some areas, the requirements apply only to healthcare providers or workers who come in contact with the public, but in other jurisdictions, the mandate for masks applies to everyone out in public.
“It’s a virus that can affect all the major systems in our body, so when we’re dealing with that and we’re not quite sure how to protect the population, then it makes sense if we have a blanket recommendation: ‘OK, everyone leaving the house should wear a mask,‘” Mayi said.
Research shows you don’t need a medical mask to be protected. Homemade masks with layers of cotton and other fabrics can provide a barrier against spreading the virus.
“People are intelligent. I think we just need to tell them what the recommendations are and then they can get behind the science and understand why they’re doing what they’re doing instead of blindly following a mandated recommendation,” Mayi said.