Why Utahns Should Wear a Facemask

Though wearing a facemask has not been made a requirement for everyone in Utah, using one serves as a simple action taken to protect the health of others around you. Here in the state, Governor Herbert and many other leaders have asked the public to wear face coverings over their mouth and nose when out in public and adequate physical distancing cannot be followed. While many have heeded this call, we can still all help one another to do better. 

Some have asked about the science behind masks, and why wearing them is an integral part of reopening. To understand why they are necessary, the first step is to know how COVID-19 is most frequently spread. Scientific study has shown the disease is commonly released and spread through aerosol particles emitted through the nose and mouth. This is often done by symptomatic individuals who are coughing or sneezing, but can also sometimes occur when asymptomatic carriers are simply breathing or talking.

This aspect of disease spread is part of what makes containing coronavirus so difficult. When even a mildly symptomatic individual is out in public not wearing a mask, they are potentially spreading the disease to those around them. Spread done this way can be particularly troublesome when the infected individual is coming in contact with many people in an enclosed space. Without a face covering, carriers of COVID-19 are far more likely to transmit the disease in these situations. But even simple face masks that cover one’s nose or mouth can stop the transmission of aerosol particles containing COVID-19. 

Because of this, most facemasks being worn and distributed to the public are not necessarily intended to stop the wearer from inhaling the aforementioned aerosols. Rather, they are designed to stop the wearer from emitting aerosols into the air and spreading the disease. Studies have shown that even a simple cotton mask can reduce the emission of aerosol particles as much as 99 percent. Limiting this kind of spread is a simple and effective way we can all protect our friends and neighbors, and they in turn can protect us. When a greater number of people adopt mask-wearing as a part of their routine when out in public, it significantly reduces the chance of spreading the virus into the environment. This can help speed our return normal.

Video Retrieved from the National Institute of Standards and Technology

To help get masks to people throughout the state, Governor Herbert announced the “Mask for Every Utahn” initiative at the end of April. This program was created as a public/private partnership between the State of Utah, Cotopaxi, and the Utah Manufacturers Association. Through this partnership, more than 2 million facemasks have been made available to Utahns in need. This includes those who do not already own a face mask, are not able to make a face mask, and are not able to purchase a mask. The state can provide up to six masks per Utah address for those who request them, free of charge. For more information on this program and a form to place an order, you can visit this website here.

During the coming days and months, it will remain critical for everyone to wear masks. Of course, the habit of wearing a face mask when out in public is not always easy to remember, and all of us are still working to remember to implement these best practices. We hope that all Utahns understand the importance of wearing a mask, and will be diligent in their efforts to wear one.