Masks are everywhere on LSU’s campus in all different colors and patterns. For students who choose to purchase a reusable mask, it is important to wash it and clean it regularly.
Masks should be washed daily, although a dirty mask is better than no mask at all, according to LSUHSC Assistant Professor of Medicine Dr. Catherine O’Neal. She recommends that everyone should wash their hands after putting on a mask.
“Our mouth is not the cleanest part of our body so it should be washed daily,” O’Neal said. “If you only wash once a week, you are going to need seven masks.”
There is not a certain type of mask that is more effective than others. The most important thing is to keep masks clean. O’Neal said M95 masks are best not to wear unless someone has been properly trained. Otherwise, they can be uncomfortable.
“Gators and super thin stretchy masks can be great, but they can’t get wet,” O’Neal said. “So, if you’re wearing it around your neck a lot, you're running, etc., you need to change it out for a dry one.”
O’Neal said mask filters are not necessary for everyday use; however, it is a good idea to wear one in high-risk situations, such as traveling on an airplane.
“If we all wear our cloth masks then we keep the air cleaner and everybody’s risk is reduced,” O’Neal said. “If I was going to be in a situation that I feel a little more uncomfortable with such as a bigger gathering or a meeting, then your filtered kind of mask is what I would wear.”
Masks should not be shared under any circumstances. When a face mask is forgotten at home it is best to take a disposable one that most public places now have on hand for guests.
“Your face is full of bacteria, most importantly staff, so we don’t want to share masks,” O’Neal said. “From the smallest thing, it might flare your acne, to the worst thing, which is it might give you a skin infection. The inside of the mask is the dirtiest part. I definitely don’t want anyone to come into contact with that.”
Most gyms require masks during workout sessions. O’Neal said working out with a mask can be difficult, so it is important to find a mask that is comfortable, easy to breath in and fits well. It is important for people to bring a dry mask to change into after working out, for the safety of themselves and others.
“You need to make sure that since you’re sweating at the same time that the minute you finish you work out you are changing into a dry mask,” O’Neal said.
Some people wear their mask with their nose exposed and breathe outside of the mask. This is something that can expose both the wearer and those around them to bacteria.
O’Neal hopes mask mandates are not lifted.
“When we put the mask mandate into effect, we saw cases go down and this is the longest we’ve had cases be down,” O’Neal said. “Within days of the mask mandate we saw the amount of virus in the sewage go down, so it is absolutely working.”
Interim President Thomas Galligan asked all LSU students to get COVID-19 testing monthly in a campus-wide email Oct. 6. O’Neal said these regular tests will help the University measure its progress.
“Population surveillance is how we find out if we are in trouble and if things are going well or badly.” O’Neal said. “For instance, we had a football game a couple weeks ago and we would like to have another one, and so population surveillance lets us know if that football game caused a spread.”