As the summer months and sunshine-filled outdoor activities loom, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shared optimistic guidance concerning face covering and mask wearing. As more Americans choose to get vaccinated, COVID-19 numbers (cases and deaths) continue to slowly decline, precipitating a desire to ditch face coverings and masks altogether.
But wait! Not so fast.
Beyond the very real human psychology that will drive plenty of Americans to continue mask wearing even if outdoors and vaccinated, there exist several reasons to keep your face mask handy:
- Stay healthy during the flu season. Remember the flu? Every year thousands of people fall ill due to the flu, yet 2020 numbers highlighted a steep decrease thanks to fewer and less crowded gatherings, closed schools, and the wearing of face masks. Fewer individuals also suffered from the common cold. Keeping your face mask around for future use during flu and cold season will not only protect you from others’ germs, it’ll protect them from yours.
- Protect yourself from emerging COVID-19 variants. It’s safe to say COVID-19 will never fully be eradicated. Sure, herd immunity can protect us from the virus, but like the flu, COVID-19 will continue to mutate into new variants. Even if you're vaccinated, it’s still unclear how long that vaccination will remain effective or if a booster in the Fall will be required to ensure long-term efficacy. Wearing a mask during variant outbreaks enhances your personal health and wellness.
- Fly and travel safely. There’s a 1 in 1.7 million chance of passengers contracting COVID-19 on a flight according to the latest Boeing research that analyzed the transmission risk for people throughout the air travel journey. Recent CDC guidance outlines that air travelers will be required to wear a face mask given the added protection for all. As travel ramps up, people from all corners of the world will co-mingle in tightly packed “tin cans” (aka airplanes) and face masks are, in the near term, still a part of air travel necessities.
- Face masks can keep you safe in other ways. The OCTO® Respirator Mask (ORM) was initially conceptualized and developed prior to COVID-19 for year-round use in environments in which clean and filtered air is necessary, including healthcare, construction, industrial sectors, as well as high pollution environments (wildfire smoke, smog, etc). Last Fall, raging wildfires in the west stymied residents who weren’t prepared to exit their homes directly into clouds of toxic smoke and polluted air. The approaching tornado season in southern states also amplifies the benefit of including an OCTO® Respirator Mask (ORM) in family go-bags or emergency home kit.
Face masks provide a valuable layer of year-round protection against disease, natural disasters, and hazardous jobs, yet for those who rarely used them prior to the pandemic, “face mask fatigue” has become a very real issue. The last year has anecdotally proven the benefit of face masks to reduce contraction of flu, basic colds and viruses through the filtering of dangerous and toxic air. OCTO Safety Devices developed the OCTO® Respirator Mask (ORM), a reusable elastomeric respirator mask believing that clean air is not only a right, it is a necessity—not just against a pandemic—but for anytime use.