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Healthwatch 16: Facts about masks

A Geisinger infectious disease specialist provides information about different kinds of masks and how effective they really are.

DANVILLE, Pa. — Governor Wolf issued new guidelines requiring people to wear masks when going into businesses like grocery stores starting next week.

So what's the best mask option?

Officials are asking specialized medical masks only be used by health care professionals.

"There are a lot of different types of masks that vary in their effectiveness. A lot of you are familiar with the N95. The idea of that is to filter out very tiny particles. We do ask that these are reserved for those who work in the healthcare industry," said Dr. Alison Brodginski, NE director of infectious diseases for Geisinger.

However, cloth masks with multiple layers are the best option when heading out of your home to make those essential trips.

"The Level 1 mask is a cloth mask with loops around the back of the ears. Then there are other types of masks like a bandana. The important thing to remember is that we want you to not expose someone else to viral particles," said Dr. Brodginski.

Experts say the bottom line when wearing masks: something is better than nothing.

"The CDC recommends that the mask has several layers. It has an awesome website that shows you how to make a mask yourself; there are sewing methods and non-sewing methods," the doctor said. "They're a good reminder not to touch your face, not to touch your mucus membranes, which are your nose, your eyes, and mouth."

The purpose is to protect others from what could come out of your mouth when you talk, cough, or sneeze, so make sure that mask covers your nose and your mouth.

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