Masked Up!

Remember the old days, when we did all kinds of crazy stuff? One of the craziest was going to birthday parties. There we were, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a closed room with very little ventilation. And that wasn’t the worst part.

The worst part came when the birthday person stood at a table, staring at his or her cake. It was always beautiful, decorated with flowers made from that buttercream frosting that leaves the roof of your mouth slick. Then, the celebrant sucked in a deep breath and spent the next 60-seconds blowing directly on the cake to extinguish the flames on the tiny candles. But even that wasn’t the worst part!

The worst part came when we all walked to the table to claim our piece of germ/ virus/bacteria-covered cake. And we ate it! And licked the fork!

The reckless, seriously risky birthday tradition may, or may not, return. It’s too soon to know.

Local government-mandated face masks, or face coverings, have become the law of the land in most states in an effort to stop, or at least slowdown, the spread of COVID-19. As a result, an entirely new cottage industry now feeds its own economic system.

Mask-makers offer an endless variety of designs. Easily-recognized paintings by the Old Masters wrap around some masks. Others are beautiful patterns, sassy sayings, famous quotes, animals, rhinestones, lace, dogs, cats, even a photo of your very own, personal pet companion.

All of that is well and good, but it’s not the printed design that offers protection against COVID-19. It is, instead, the manner in which the face-covering is worn. CDC and WHO say:

Wash hands thoroughly and pick up mask by the ear loops, slipping the loops over your ears. It should be snug against the sides of your face, with no gaps that welcome COVID-19 contaminants wanting to enter your space.

The mask should cover your nose, mouth, and chin. Is it comfortable? No. It’s not. Is it hot? Yes. It is. Wearing it for two or three hours will increase your respect for the people who must wear it eight to 20-hours per day.

A wire or metal strip over the nose is good. Bend it to the shape of your nose to better seal that area. The pleats on pleated masks should open downward. Once the mask is in place, do not touch it again until it’s time to remove it.

It’s highly recommended that you do not lift the mask away from your face (nose and mouth) while in public to catch a breath or to take a drink.

After returning home, remove your mask by the ear loops without touching any other part. Either wash it immediately or place it in a plastic bag and store in a cool, clean place.

Finally, wash your hands for a full two minutes. By the way, two minutes is how long it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.” So just wash and sing, since this may be the closest you’ll get to one of those wild and crazy parties for a very long time.