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How wearing a mask can help stop the summer spike in COVID-19 cases

Posted at 5:22 PM, Jun 25, 2020

Since the Memorial Day holiday, the uptick in COVID-19 cases in Utah has been undeniable. With 590 new cases reported in Utah on Thursday alone, increased infection rates are threatening hospital capacity.

To help stop the spike in COVID-19 cases, the Utah Hospital Association in collaboration with hospitals across the state kicked off “Mask Up Utah” this week.

The question of whether or not to wear a mask has become a divisive issue, but after several months of research one thing has become clear - wearing a mask can help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Amy Khan, medical director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah said, "Most people who are infected are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic and can unknowingly spread infection to others. Face coverings reduce the spread of droplets when talking, coughing or sneezing." Dr. Khan explained that research now shows that the odds of transmission are reduced by as much as 80 percent when people use face masks.

Some of the mixed messages about face masks are linked to initial concern about having a proper supply for medical workers at the beginning of the pandemic. However, Dr. Khan says now we know that wearing a simple cloth mask in public places such as going to stores and waiting in lines - anywhere there may be a crowd or shared space.

Proper fit is also key when finding a face mask. You should look for something that fits over both your nose and mouth and be secured by loops of elastic over the ears or tied snugly tied across the back of the head. Keep in mind that finding a mask is not "one size fits all" and that you may need to try a few different styles before you find the best mask for you.

Tips for effective mask use:
· Reduces spread of infected droplets when talking, coughing, or sneezing
· Protects you and others from acquiring infection
· Fits properly over nose and mouth
· More people wearing makes is critical helping our communities stay open
· Prevents exposure to people at risk for severe disease

When to Wear Masks:
· Public places - stores, lines, bathrooms, crowded places (inside or out)
· Public transportation – bus, light rail, taxi or ride-sharing services
· Healthcare settings - doctor’s office, hospital, pharmacy, emergency room
· Workplace, performing work off-site or directly interacting with the public
· Shared spaces - libraries, elevators, work cubicles
· Outdoors whenever physical distancing is not possible

Fore more COVID-19 resources and information, visit regence.com.