Cloth Face Masks Against COVID-19

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With novel coronavirus and COVID-19 spreading so rapidly, the science has struggled to keep up. How dangerous is it? What will keep me safe? What works? What doesn’t? It’s a confusing time and it’s difficult to know what you should be doing. Now with the CDC recommending cloth face masks and so many cities and states requiring them in public, the question naturally arises: do cloth face masks actually help?
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According to a recent review of the evidence: all signs point to yes, cloth face masks do help. This article from The New Yorker goes into much more depth about what face masks are meant to do, what they are not meant to do, and how effective they really are according to the current science. Summed up:

“A recent, extensive review of the research from an international consortium of scientists suggests that if at least sixty per cent of the population wore masks that were just sixty-per-cent effective in blocking viral transmission—which a well-fitting, two-layer cotton mask is—the epidemic could be stopped. The more effective the mask, the bigger the impact.”

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How does COVID-19 spread?

The most up-to-date information from the CDC says that COVID-19 is spread mainly “through close contact from person-to-person” and through “respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.” So how would you protect yourself from something that spreads through close contact and through respiratory droplets? It makes sense that the main advice is to maintain social distance (limiting close contact) and to wear face masks when in public (limiting the spread of respiratory droplets).

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Do face masks filter?

One recent study showed that, on average, a properly worn surgical mask filters about 75% of particles, while a loose-fitting cloth mask filters between 30% and 60%. A crucial point, though, was that for a cloth face mask that fit tightly, filtration improved by an additional 15% to 50%. A tighter fit meant less air was able to flow around the face mask where it would not be filtered. Click below for more information about the important balance of fit and filtration in our Cloth Face Mask.

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The importance of fit.

While the loose-fitting masks filtered between 30% and 60% of particles, the same masks filtered at least 50% and up to more than 80% when they fit more tightly. Eight of the ten fabric masks tested filtered more than 65% when fit tightly. And as the article states, "if at least sixty per cent of the population wore masks that were just sixty-per-cent effective in blocking viral transmission…the epidemic could be stopped." Click below for more information how our Cloth Face Mask is designed to fit well.

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Perhaps this study puts it clearest: “The preponderance of evidence indicates that mask wearing reduces the transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected droplets in both laboratory and clinical contexts. Public mask wearing is most effective...when compliance is high.”

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So what does this all mean?

As we learn more about coronavirus and COVID-19, more studies indicate that cloth face masks are effective at reducing the spread. The evidence suggests that even a basic cloth mask, especially one that fits well, can be helpful. And the more people wear masks, the stronger the overall effect.
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Our Cloth Face Masks haven’t been officially tested in a laboratory setting, but they were developed with these principals in mind:

  • Face masks are most effective when air flows directly through the mask. So, we made our Cloth Face Mask with two layers of breathable, knit cotton that provides a barrier but allows airflow.
  • Air is not filtered when it can flow around the sides of the mask. Our Cloth Face Mask has elastic ear loops and stretchable knit fabric to form a more secure fit against your face.
  • A face mask does not need to have a very strong filter to be helpful. Our Cloth Face Mask is not N95 or medical-grade, but evidence suggests a breathable, well-fitting cloth mask is effective enough to help slow the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19.

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