Different mask options have pros and cons

This story was originally published in the first edition of The Lion’s Tale (October 6, 2020).

COVID-19 has hit the US hard. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended the use of masks, social distancing and staying inside, although the public has not always been consistent in following this guidance. However, one of the most important things is the wearing of masks- they not only protect ourselves, but the people around us. Different kinds of masks are composed of different materials, but what is the most protective option?

Let’s start with the most common type, the disposable mask. I think this mask is good in terms of protection; it is thick, but
not so thick that you can not breathe. What you are supposed to do is use it once and then throw it away once you are done, hence it is disposable. What I have noticed is people tend to use these masks as a “go- to” option, wearing them a few times before disposing of them. Given that this is not in accordance with the intended use, is this the best way to protect others? Perhaps not, but the mask itself is not the problem. It is affordable and medically certified, which proves its usage is effective when done correctly.

The cloth mask is another commonly used face covering, and for good reason. It is washable and reusable, so I already rank it higher than the disposable mask, which is neither of those things. It is thicker than the disposable kind, and personally, I think this mask is more successful in limiting the spread of the virus. It is also very affordable and comfortable, so no one should be complaining that they can not
breathe or that it is bothering them. Unlike the disposable mask, most of the cloth masks are tight-fitting, but not too tight, on the user’s face. All in all, I think this is one of the top tier masks.

The last face covering I see worn commonly is the N95 respirator mask. For starters, it is not as affordable as the traditional masks. The N95 masks can range from ten to fifty dollars depending on the design and manufacturer. I personally do not think that a high quality mask should be too expensive, as some of these are. Some families may be able to afford a high-priced face covering, but what about the households who are less fortunate, especially considering the economic strain the pandemic has caused? It should be noted that this mask is used by medical personnel and is very much protective. It is bulkier and would certainly not let unnecessary air particles pass through that could harm the user. I do have to say it is not very comfortable and could be a little harder to breathe in, but if health workers
wear N95 respirators for hours each day, you can put one on when you go to the store or run other errands. Do it for the good of those you encounter.

There are many more types of masks that I could discuss, but it is most important that we spread awareness of the most commonly used ones. The pros and cons of each kind do matter, but if you’re in a public place you need to wear one no matter what. It protects you and the people around you who do the same.