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Depending on where you live in the world, you have either already passed – or are about to pass – the one-year anniversary of when your country first initiated lockdown related to the deadly and highly infectious COVID-19 pandemic.
There is absolutely no doubt that our lives have changed in the last year. We are now highly familiar with many of the essential facts related to how viruses spread and go from impacting a small corner of the world to impacting billions of people every single day.
Luckily, given the miracle of modern science and medicine, it looks as though there will soon be a day that we can all go out and enjoy the world as we once did without having to worry about contracting this horrible disease.
Though that day is not yet upon us, we can already start to consider some of the small things that have had the most positive impact on our lives in the last year.
One such thing is the humble surgical mask. Sure, you might not like wearing your surgical mask when you leave your home, but there is no doubt that the global use of surgical masks has – literally – saved millions of lives.
If you aren’t convinced that the surgical mask is one of the many unsung heroes of the novel coronavirus pandemic, let’s break down some of the most important facts and reasons why that statement is nothing but the truth.
Let’s get started!
The face mask is highly effective at preventing the spread of the virus.
This is the most fact related to why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been so adamant that people wear face masks throughout the last year. The simple truth is that wearing a facemask works.
Whether you are one of the people who were able to get their hands on n95 masks, kn95 masks, or other hefty respirators or decided to depend on surgical masks, bandanas, or homemade masks, there is no doubt that you were more protected than you would have otherwise been had you worn nothing at all.
The primary reason why is because face masks help dramatically reduce the spread of airborne droplets coming from your lungs that could contain the COVID-19 virus.
Interestingly, while wearing a mask does protect the person who is wearing the mask, what someone who is wearing a mask is doing is protecting those around them. A mask makes it much harder for the viral load to escape and spread.
Every time you are wearing a mask, you are doing a selfless act to protect strangers around you. And every time you see a stranger wearing a mask, they are doing a selfless act to protect you. It’s kind of wondering if you think about it that way!
Face masks have enabled us to keep essential workers safe.
Without a doubt, the TRUE heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic are the essential workers who have helped keep our world running despite lockdown. Whether someone was a doctor on the frontlines of the virus, or someone stocking shelves at a local grocery store, they deserve our utmost respect and gratitude.
Hopefully, one day we will organize an international holiday to celebrate the millions of brave men and women who have kept working and doing their essential duties. One of the reasons these people have been able to continue working is the widespread use of masks.
Without masks, people would have had to stay home 100 percent of the time if they wanted to stay safe from the pandemic.
Sure, masks do not offer total protection; ultimately, nothing can offer that. With that being said, masks have allowed all of us to be quite safe in the outside world.
They keep us from touching our faces.
Another reason why masks have been so helpful at stopping the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic is that they physically make it much harder to touch one’s face. While the COVID-19 pandemic is airborne and can be transferred simply through breaths, coughs, and sneezes, it can also rest on surfaces and can transfer from a surface to your fingertips, to your face.
That’s especially true if you are someone who tends to touch your face. However, face masks have served as a really important barrier that has helped to keep people from regularly touching their faces while they are out and about.
Instead, a face mask reminds people not to touch their face until they have washed their hands thoroughly and their masks are off. It’s a lesser benefit compared to keeping droplets with the virus in them from getting into the air, but it is still a really important way in which masks have helped protect people from getting COVID-19.
What is next for masks?
So, now that the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be coming to its end as global numbers and death rates continue to fall, you may be wondering if there will ever be a day that you can throw all of your masks in the bin.
The truth is that, even if the novel coronavirus pandemic is completely eradicated (which seems unlikely, by the way), there are a lot of reasons why you’ll want to keep a surgical mask or two hands for specific uses. That is certainly true if you travel on planes often or use public transportation to get from place to place.
Now that we are all abundantly familiar with how effective face masks can be at keeping people healthy, there is little doubt that millions of people will be wearing masks when they travel, whether they are feeling a bit of a cold coming on or feeling perfectly fine.
We may hate wearing our surgical masks these days, but it likely won’t be long before we look back and feel incredibly grateful for how well they kept us safe during one of the most difficult years in history.