The Best Masks for Every Situation, According to Health Experts
What are epidemiologists, virologists, and doctors putting on their (and their families’) faces in day-to-day life?
As masks have become as critical to people’s daily routines as brushing their teeth and grabbing their keys — per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against Covid-19” — it’s also become clear that not all masks are created equal. And with so many options hitting the market, it can be hard to decide what kind to buy and wear, especially since masks that are excellent for one activity can be uncomfortable for others. Here’s what coronavirus experts are wearing in their own lives.
For all-day use: A comfortable cloth or surgical mask (and possibly a few of them)
“I wear a cloth or surgical mask (if I have one available) whenever I’m out in public. This is for source control — to reduce the number of respiratory droplets I’m producing during breathing or speaking,” says Angela Rasmussen, MD, a virologist at Columbia University in New York. “This is to be courteous to my fellow citizens, as data is unclear about the protective benefit these masks offer the wearer, but if everyone is wearing masks, that reduces the number of potentially infectious respiratory droplets that everyone in a location could be exposed to.”
Renee Matthews, MD, a medical educator and the host of Outcome Health’s waiting room TV show Out of Office With Dr. Renee, opts for a handmade cotton mask with a pocket for an additional filter, which she purchased from Etsy.
“I live in a high-rise building and wear my mask in community spaces when I’m doing laundry, getting the mail, or taking out the trash,” Matthews says. “The biggest thing you want to consider when choosing a mask is finding one that’s comfortable so you’re more likely to wear it,” Matthews says. “Mine goes from the…