Effective Face Coverings; Hillsborough Mandate
Tampa, is the mask you are using effective?
The Hillsborough County Commission is the governing entity for the County’s COVID-19 response. The Commission recently decided in a 5-2 decision to extend the countywide mask order until August 13, 2020. After multiple public health and emergency management officials that the County’s uptick in new COVID-19 cases has begun to flatten, the commissioners decided it was in the public's best interest to continue the face-covering mandate.
What does this mean for Tampa visitors and residents?
If you plan to go to a place that provides goods or services directly to the public, you must wear a face covering. This mandate does not apply to children under the age of eight (8). Although this mandate seems absolute, those with existing health conditions are exempt from the order, if wearing a mask will cause impairment. If you do not fall under this exemption, you can be subject to penalties if you refuse to put on a face-covering. Although the County seeks voluntary compliance, the penalties for violating the mandate ranges from a civil citation and a $150 fine through a second-degree misdemeanor.
Please note, the purpose of a face covering is to promote public safety. Although it seems that society is trying to operate as close to normal as possible, we are not there yet. Rushing into a Post Pandemic World before mitigating the risks associate with the virus will prolong social distancing and face-covering mandates. Do your part to stop the transmission of COVID-19 and help society successfully transition into a Post Pandemic World by wearing an effective face-covering in public places.
This begets the question, is my face covering effective?
A recent study done by researchers with Duke University showed fallacies in widely accepted information about face coverings. Many of us have opted to create our own face coverings to add some enjoyment to this trying time. However, this recent study showed that some of the materials we have decided to use, do not protect us as effectively as researchers would have hoped. For instance, the study showed that “Neck Fleeces” resulted in a higher number of respiratory droplets because the material was able to break down droplets into smaller particles that were easily carried by air.
Although, according to the study, the most effective mask was the fitted N95. Three-layer surgical masks and cotton masks, which many people have been making at home, were effective as well. If you opt to create a mask, make sure that your mask actually works.
Below are links to information that will provide additional information surrounding the Hillsborough County Commission's mandate and the effectiveness of materials for face coverings.
https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/residents/public-safety/emergency-management/stay-safe/face-coverings-and-masks –Hillsborough County information about the face-covering mandate.
https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/08/07/sciadv.abd3083.full –Research done on face-covering materials and their effectiveness during speech.