Keene State is now requiring students to wear tight-fitting three-ply masks while on campus. “To date ,there have been 57 positive cases off campus and two on campus,” said Dr. Wayne Hartz. Hartz is a professor and the Department Chair for the Safety and Occupational Health Applied Sciences programs at Keene State College.
Since there is such a large variety of masks, KSC has been handing out and recommending the use of three-ply masks. Hartz said, “What’s really good about surgical or FDA approved masks is that they meet a defined standard of fabrication and undergo testing to assure when worn properly, a level of effectiveness or efficacy are met. For example, the surgical looking masks now being handed out during testing are approved by the FDA.”
“To date there are no regulations or approvals for cloth masks. Plus, cloth masks need laundering,” Hartz said.
According to the CDC, when selecting a mask, they should include “two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric that completely cover your nose and mouth.” A mask must “fit snugly against the sides of your face and doesn’t have gaps.” Lastly, the CDC states that, “Having a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask,” can make a major difference.
KSC biology professor Dr. Loren Launen said, “Cleanliness in hands when taking on and off is essential, not having gaps is essential, and using clean masks is essential.” Launen also said, “The success of a mask in its ability to filter out SARS-CoV-2 particles is a function of its ability to filter, so it has to be tight fitting around all edges, or there is no filtering. Similarly, it has to be layered, or it won’t filter.”
Double-masking is not necessary but it is another good method of preventing contaminants from spreading through the air. Timothy Hastings, a laboratory technician at KSC said, “I think that double-masking can help [prevent] the spread of COVID because wearing a surgical mask underneath a cloth one helps to stop both the exhalation and inhalation of aerosols that may contain virus particles. Furthermore, these types of prevention methods help to stop the spread of emerging variants, which will go a long way to stopping the pandemic.”
Launen also agreed with double-masking. She said, “I think double masking, given our recent increase in cases, is justified in indoor environments, to protect the more vulnerable (which includes many of us who are middle-aged or older). And everyone should be masked all the time. Even athletes in practice.”
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