To help slow the spread of COVID-19, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced June 24 that the state will remain in phase two of its reopening plan for at least another three weeks.

The governor also announced that a mandatory statewide face-covering requirement when in public, would take effect Friday, June 26, at 5 p.m. Exceptions include children under 11, those with certain medical conditions, and people exercising outdoors away from others.

Cooper said his decision to extend phase two until July 17 was “because health experts need that period of time to be able to analyze the data and trends they are seeing.”

In the meantime, questions keep coming from readers about how to navigate life with a mask coveriYolanda Enrich FNP at Novant Health Adult Primary Care in Waughtownng our faces. Yolanda Enrich, a family nurse practitioner at Novant Health Adult Primary Care Waughtown, has weighed in to help answer some of these common questions.

A lot of women have found that their face is breaking out with acne or “maskne” due to prolonged mask wear. What can they do to prevent that?

As we’ve started wearing masks more frequently and longer, women especially have been coping with breakouts. Health care workers are more at risk because in some cases they’re wearing them for longer periods than the rest of us. When possible, use cotton fabric masks, wash them often, and make sure they are completely dry. Avoid using fabric softeners or harsh detergents when washing the mask and allow it to dry completely. The less facial make up, the better. If you have more than one mask, change to a fresh one during the day to limit sweat and oil buildup.

Is there a right way to wear my mask?

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.

If my oxygen levels were tested after an eight-hour day of wearing a mask, would it show less oxygen intake?

No. The mask should not cause any issues with your breathing and/or oxygen levels. If you find it difficult to breathe, your mask may be too tight. It should fit snugly around your face, nose and chin.

Is bacteria forming inside my mask from the moisture level all day long?

Bacteria can form on moist surfaces and that is why the mask should be washed after each use following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You can wash your mask with regular laundry, using laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting, then dry completely either using the highest setting of your dryer or air dry preferably under direct sunlight. Make sure the mask is completely dry.

Can I use a face shield instead of a face mask?

Face masks are the best protection, but individuals unable to wear a mask can wear a face shield.

If you’ve tested negative for COVID-19, do you still need to wear a mask?

Yes, the mask will not only help to protect others, but yourself as well.

Should someone who has already had and recovered from COVID-19 still wear a mask?

Yes, immunity is still under investigation, and everyone should continue to wear a cloth face covering to protect themselves and others.

How do you know if you have a good mask? I’ve noticed some of the cloth ones are very thin/loosely woven.

Cloth face coverings should be made of at least a double-layered cotton fabric tightly woven. They should fit snugly but comfortably around the face, nose and chin. The mask should completely cover the nose and mouth and allow for breathing without restriction. The mask should also be able to be laundered and dried without damage or change to shape.

When visiting a doctor should the staff all be wearing masks?

Most offices have issued policies regarding this topic. In particular, at Novant Health everyone must wear a mask when in contact with other team members or patients.

The person I’m dating is coming to town. We have both been careful about wearing masks and neither of us have any symptoms. Do we still need to social distance?

That is a chance that you need to decide if you are willing to take. Keep in mind that either you or your friend may be asymptomatic but still able to transmit the virus.