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How to Properly Disinfect Every Type of Face Mask

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Face masks help limit the spread of COVID-19 by catching respiratory droplets that are released when people sneeze, cough, or talk. According to Dr. Steve Pergam, MPH, medical director of infection prevention at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, this is how the virus spreads person to person through these droplets.

When a person nearby inhales the droplets or the droplets land inside their mouth or nose, they could contract an infection with the virus. They could also likely contract the virus by touching a contaminated mask then touches their mouth or nose.  

Cleaning and sanitizing your mask is essential to limit the possibility of contracting the virus from contaminated surfaces, including face masks. 

This article will show how to safely disinfect common types of masks for reuse and handle medical-grade masks that cannot be easily cleaned outside of a medical setting.

Cloth Face Coverings

Debra Goff, PharmD, FIDSA, FCCP, an infectious diseases specialist and pharmacy professor at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, states that bandanas, cloth masks, neck gaiters, and scarves are masks that can be cleaned and reused.

If you plan to machine-wash your mask, first, wash your hands. Then remove the mask and do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, Goff advises.

Place the mask directly into the washing machine then wash your hands immediately.

Goff recommends using your regular laundry detergent in addition to bleach and the warmest water recommended for that fabric type. Once the mask is washed, dry on high heat until it’s completely dry.

For hand-washing your mask, she suggests following the same method washing your hands before removing your face mask.

To disinfect your mask properly, soak it in a bleach solution containing four teaspoons of household bleach per each quart of water for 5 minutes.

Then soak the mask, and rinse thoroughly with water, and let the mask air-dry.

Goff states it’s best to clean cloth face masks after each use.

Medical-Grade Masks 

Kaiming Ye, Ph.D., professor and department chair of biomedical engineering and director of the Center of Biomanufacturing for Regenerative Medicine at Binghamton University, State University of New York, states that some masks, like N95 and surgical masks, are intended for single-use only.

This means the masks should be thrown away in the trash after wearing them for the average person.

Ye says these masks can be reused in professional settings, however, if properly sanitized. He says N95 masks can be disinfected by UVC germicidal irradiation or vapor phase hydrogen peroxide. 

However, there have been no tests performed on surgical mask disinfection or reuse as the demand is low, Ye notes. Goff suggests inspecting the mask when you take it off when you can’t replace your mask between each use.

If the face mask is dirty, torn, or saturated with moisture, she says you should discard it. Suppose it appears to be clean and intact. In that case, she recommends storing it in a clean paper bag or another breathable container between uses.

Ideally, however, they shouldn’t be reused.

Face Shields 

Since face shields open on the side, they don’t protect you from sneezes or coughs behind you. Face shields, however, protect your eyes.

Goff says face shields are often worn with a face mask for added protection. When it comes to cleaning face shields, first wipe down the inside using a clean cloth saturated with a neutral detergent solution or cleaner wipe.

Then wipe down the outside using a disinfectant wipe or clean cloth saturated with a disinfectant solution. Followed by wiping the outside of the face shield with clean water or alcohol to remove the residue.

Allow the face shield to air-dry, and finally, wash your hands when you’re done. Face masks are an essential way to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19.

Make sure your face masks are cleaned or discarded after use by following these guidelines on how to keep every type of face mask sanitized.  Keep in mind that medical masks are not designed for reuse. Face shields may be used in addition to a face mask for more protection, and should also be cleaned between uses.

Sources: 

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-guidance.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p0714-americans-to-wear-masks.html
  3. https://www.seattlecca.org/providers/steven-a-pergam
  4. https://pharmacy.osu.edu/directory/debra-goff
  5. https://www.binghamton.edu/biomedical-engineering/people/profile.html?id=kye

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Covid-19

Coronavirus: Sanitize or Disinfect?

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that you wash your hands frequently or sanitizing them when soap and water are not available and cleaning commonly-touched-surfaces to keep yourself protected.

While sanitizers and disinfectants are commonly referred to as interchangeably, both products are different and should be used in separate circumstances.  

According to the CDC, cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting all have different definitions:

  • Cleaning eliminates germs, dirt, and other impurities from surfaces, but does not necessarily kill them.
  • Sanitizing decreases the number of germs on surfaces or objects by killing them or removing them—to a safe level, according to public health standards or requirements.
  • Disinfecting kills germs on objects or surfaces.

Diane Calello, MD, executive and medical director of New Jersey Poison Center and associate professor of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, states sanitizing does not kill everything. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines sanitizers as chemical products that can kill 99.9% of germs on hard surfaces. Again, disinfectants are more potent, killing 99.999% of germs on hard, non-porous surfaces or objects.

The difference comes down to that sanitizing solutions aren’t as potent as disinfecting solutions. Some products can be both sanitizers and disinfectants. Dr. Calello says concentrated bleach can be a disinfectant, but if it’s very diluted, it might be a sanitizer meaning it kills fewer bacteria and viruses.

Sanitize or Disinfect?

There are specific procedures for cleaning groceries, surfaces in your home like doorknobs, and your hands, and it’s crucial to get them right. When it comes to groceries, you don’t need to wipe them down with disinfectant wipes (or any other disinfectants) or a sanitizer. You can clean them using water, but no soap when you bring them to your home.

For highly-touched areas of your home like doorknobs, toilet handles, and even sinks, you want to save disinfectants for these areas. However, for countertops where surfaces are exposed to food preparation, its best to sanitize those so any chemical residue isn’t as powerful and potentially harmful.

As for your own hands, you should not use disinfecting wipes as it can be hazardous for your skin, according to Dr. Calello. She further adds that at the poison center, she works for has seen people’s adverse effects using disinfectants on their own bodies. She said there was a man who acquired powerful, industrial-use disinfectant wipes and developed a blistering rash.

Donald Ford, MD, family medicine doctor at Cleveland Clinic, states that you can wipe off surfaces but wash your hands. Due to the “good” bacteria that live on your skin, when you apply something that kills all the bacteria on your hands, you’re killing off some helpful and natural bacteria. 

Dr. Calello says there is a reason why we do not apply something that does not kill every organism like a hand sanitizer, which should contain 60% alcohol. However, it’s essential to remember that hand sanitizer is adequate if you’re out in public, but washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is preferred.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in people purchasing disinfectants and sanitizing products and knowing when to sanitize and disinfect surfaces or objects can help in practicing proper sanitation. 

Sources: 

  1. https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/sanitize-vs-disinfect
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/school/cleaning.htm
  3. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/ece_curriculumfinal.pdf
  4. https://www.njpies.org/administrative-staff/
  5. https://rutgershealth.org/provider/diane-calello
  6. https://www.health.com/condition/infectious-diseases/coronavirus/how-to-use-cleaning-chemicals-safely

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Covid-19

Abbott’s Latest COVID-19 Test Costs $5

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Abbott Labs has received emergency approval from the FDA for its rapid antigen test that detects COVID-19 in fifteen minutes. According to Brett Giroir, the United States Assistant Secretary for Health and the Department of Health and Human Services stated the test is a “game-changer.” 

The FDA’s emergency use authorization for Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card is approximately the size of a credit card. BinaxNOW will cost $5 and include a free mobile app that will let people who test negative display a temporary, date-stamped health pass renewed each time a new test is taken. 

The antigen test involves a nasal swab that uses the same type of technology as a flu test. Abbott announced it expects 50 million BinaxNOW tests a month produced by October.

Joseph Petrosino, a professor of virology at Baylor College of Medicine, expressed his enthusiasm for Abbott’s new COVID-19 test. He stated the test’s massive scale would allow millions of people to have access to quick and reliable COVID-19 testing. He added this would help get infectious people off the streets and into quarantine, limiting the virus’s spread.

The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card is the fourth antigen test to receive an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. 

The antigen test looks for pieces of the virus that are not as reliable as the traditional Polymerase chain reaction test, which looks for the virus’s genetic material. However, they are faster, less expensive, and less invasive. PCR tests have been beset by supply chain problems and back-ups at labs, which have delayed results and cause confusion among patients, doctors, and public health officials. 

 Sources: 

  1. https://www.abbott.com/BinaxNOW-Test-NAVICA-App.html
  2. https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/27/investing/abbott-labs-rapid-covid-test/index.html
  3. https://www.bcm.edu/people-search/joseph-petrosino-28634

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Covid-19

New Study Finds Children Can Spread COVID-19 as Much as Adults

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A new study from South Korea has discovered that children between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread COVID-19 just as much as adults. The extensive study, published by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, states that household transmission of the virus “was high” for those between 10 and 19 years old

Household transmission rates were lower for patients aged 0 to 9. Researchers examined reports for 59,073 contacts of 5,706 coronavirus patients in South Korea between January 20 and March 27. Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told The New York Times that this study is one of the best to date concerning the coronavirus and transmission of the disease.

The results arrive as school officials across the nation determine whether or not to reopen schools for the upcoming year. The South Korean study said that the researchers’ findings of coronavirus transmission during school reopenings emphasize the need for a time-sensitive epidemiologic study to safeguard public health policy.

The study also indicated the effectiveness of contact tracing, especially in light of future waves of SARS-CoV-2, that will rely heavily upon social distancing and personal hygiene as primary factors for preventative measures. Awareness of the role hygiene and infection control measure plays is vital to reducing the household spread, and using masks in the home for family members who are at high risk for contracting the coronavirus needs further research.

Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, told The New York Times, that there will be transmission rates of the virus if schools reopen and include that in plans for preventing and limiting the contraction of the virus. 

Sources: 

  1. https://www.health.com/syndication/children-aged-10-19-spread-coronavirus-just-as-much-as-adults-new-study-finds
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/27/young-californians-attribute-in-coronavirus-spike/
  3. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/10/20-1315_article
  4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/ashish-jha/
  5. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/18/health/coronavirus-children-schools.html
  6. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/04/02/is-social-distancing-helping-californians/
  7. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/17/how-to-fix-this-type-of-n95-mask-to-limit-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus/
  8. https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/about-us/cidrap-staff/michael-t-osterholm-phd-mph

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