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Cornelius News

Helpful Q&A on face masks

Now that wearing a face covering in public has become mandatory in North Carolina, some people are starting to consider wearing a mask for the very first time.

Meanwhile, some people declining to wear masks have said the requirement infringes upon personal freedom and is an example of government overreach.


Yolanda Enrich, a family nurse practitioner at Novant Health, does not see mask wearing as a political issue, but rather, as a health and safety consideration for the good of everyone.

“Remember, the purpose of the mask is to not only protect yourself, but to protect those around you,” Enrich said. “Even if you are asymptomatic, you can still spread the virus to others. By wearing a mask, social distancing and practicing frequent hand-washing, you are doing your part to help slow the spread and to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities.”

What would you say to someone who believes their rights are being violated because of the masking mandate?

ENRICH: Please consider wearing a mask for everyone’s safety. It’s not just about you, it’s about the public good. Wearing a mask is a direct step you can take to keep yourself and members of the community safe, particularly those who are most vulnerable and at risk.

If masks really work, then why can’t we all just wear them and get back to the gym, church and sporting events?

ENRICH: Research shows that masks work well when paired with social distancing and hand-washing. Avoiding large crowds is still essential, even with a mask on, to help slow the spread.

If I’m sick with a cold, or even just allergies, can wearing a mask all day harm my own health? It can’t be good to trap all of that snot and spit in my mask and breathe it in for eight hours, right?

ENRICH: No, wearing a mask will not harm your health even if you are sick with a cold or allergies. If your mask gets too moist just make sure you are changing it regularly.

The governor said kids under 11 don’t need to wear a mask. But can’t they still catch the virus? What should we do to keep our kids safe if they aren’t wearing masks?

ENRICH: Yes, children can catch the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all children over the age of 2 wear a mask. If your children are over the age of 2, you can have them wear a mask even if the state does not require it.

If you work in an office setting, should everyone wear a mask? And what about those in a cubical?

ENRICH: Yes, employees and customers should wear masks. If working in a cubicle that allows for social distancing (6 feet) between the employee in the next cubicle, the mask is not needed. The mask should be worn when around other employees, in common areas or when walking through the office.

My adult son has autism and hates wearing a mask. Is it possible to get him a medical exemption, or what should we do?

ENRICH: The North Carolina mandate issued exempts children under 11, people with medical conditions and people who are exercising and able to maintain social distancing. People who can’t wear a mask due to developmental issues are not required to wear one.

Do I need to get an ultraviolet light to clean my masks?

ENRICH: No, just follow the CDC recommendations on how to wash your mask. You can wash your face covering with your regular laundry. Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the face covering. Use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry. If air drying, lay flat and allow to completely dry. If possible, place the cloth face covering in direct sunlight.

If I travel to a beach, should I get a COVID-19 test when I get back?

ENRICH: You need to follow the CDC guidelines as some areas are designated as hot spots. You definitely need to be careful around large crowds and pay attention to any symptoms you may have.

What medical conditions are exempt from having to wear a mask?

ENRICH: Cloth face coverings should not be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

If I have a medical condition that prevents me from being able to wear a mask and need to go into a business, do I need to get a doctor’s note?

ENRICH: The state does not require individuals to provide documentation for a medical exemption and is relying on the honor system.

I know I need to wear a mask inside the store, but do I need to have it on during my walk through the parking lot?

ENRICH: You need to wear a mask anytime you will not be able to stay 6 feet away from other people.

Is there a right way to wear my mask?

ENRICH: The mask should fit snugly and cover your nose, mouth and chin. You should also never touch the front of your mask as it might be contaminated. Instead, you should touch only the ear loops or ties on the back when putting the mask on or taking it off.

Take care to always have the same side of the mask facing outward. You don’t want to go into a public place wearing a mask, take it off later, and then put it back on with the front now pressing on your face. Always keep the “clean” side in. And you should also wash your hands before and after use.

Content provided by Novant Health