As we start tentatively dipping our toe back into person-to-person interaction, wearing a mask or face covering is one great way to show everyone you encounter that you value their health as much as your own.
As you likely know, the CDC recommends wearing a fabric face covering when in public settings where physical distance is difficult to maintain, like grocery stores. This is a huge ask for Americans who are not accustomed to having an alien garment in front of their face. Humans are inherently facially expressive and mask-wearing challenges the ways we communicate.
Watching communities address how best to slow the Covid-19 spread has felt like being a participant in a monumental social experiment. Scientists have given us some data points to work with and the main takeaway is that wearing a mask is a low-cost way to stem the transmission of the virus. According to a recent simulation at UC Berkeley, Dekau Wu and his team of researchers modeled that if 80% of the population wore masks, infection rates would plunge by 90%. That’s the kind of math that should appeal to a country wanting to go back to business. And yet, we are nothing if not advocates of individualistic thoughts and rights in the United States. However, we would be smart to remember that feeling healthy and without Covid-19 symptoms doesn't mean you are virus-free.
A fabric face mask is not a substitute for an N-95 mask but most of us are going to be interacting in situations that are lower risk than our front line workers. Wearing something over your nose and mouth will minimize your viral exposure as well as for those around you. They are not magical shields but tools to reduce risk. Combined with hand washing and physical distancing we can begin interacting more with our communities.
A few mask tips I’ve learned along the way:
- Own several masks so it’s easy to have a fresh one when you go out. They are easy to misplace.
- Find masks that have a dense weave or use a double layer.
- Handle with care and try to avoid touching areas of your mask that could be contaminated, namely around your face. Then wash your hands after removing.
Scientists around the world agree it is our lowest-cost step to slow transmission and save lives. Face coverings should not make you complacent but should be used in combination with vigorous hand washing and physical distancing measures.
An article by Erin Bromage, PhD 'The Risks - Know Them - Avoid Them' is very informative if you haven’t read it already. Get down and dirty about the science of viral transmission here.
The other day while I was getting gas, I spoke to the mask-wearing attendant while wearing my own face mask in my car (yes we are in Oregon and don't pump our own gas) and. It was a nice exchange and I believe our most aspirational message we can give to our neighbors out there working in high-contact interactions is that 'we care about you, too'.
When shelter-in-place orders started rolling across the world, we ordered yardage of the sweetest prints. We then got to work studying the best ways to make comfortable masks that meet the CDC guidelines. Some of the complaints we heard from friends wearing masks is that they pulled on ears or that paper-based masks were not reusable.
Our thought was to make an adjustable fitting face mask. Available in three sizes S (Kids), M, and L, The Sowell was created. Then we started thinking about how we could make a face covering that serves the purpose of reducing transmission but is maybe a bit more comfortable while we’re still developing a mask-wearing habit. That is how The Soshell was born.
With our cotton and washable and reusable Dare Heart face masks, you can share a little brightness, love and kindness with the face you put forward.