Gov. Andy Beshear has asked every Kentuckian to wear a mask as the Bluegrass state moves to reopen some business shuttered by Covid-19.
Wearing a mask may seem pretty-straight forward but Kacy Allen-Bryant, chairperson of the Lexington Fayette-County Board of Health, said that wearing a mask correctly requires some rules.
“The biggest thing is that you want to wear a mask that covers your nose and your mouth,” she said. That means no just wearing the mask around your mouth and chin or dangling a mask from one ear.
Cloth or disposable masks that loop over the ears or tie in the back of the head are best. Professionally made masks like that can be hard find, she said. In a pinch a winter scarf could do. Also, a lighter weight scarf that is folded over several times could provide a sufficient barrier.
Whatever kind scarf you use, it should be tied securely around the back of the head, not just artistically draped for a fashion affect.
A bandana is another option, she said, and there are online tutorials about how to make a mask at home.
This might be especially helpful for parents who can let their child pick out the color they would like and turn mask making into a craft project.
It is important that a child doesn’t depend on an adult mask which gap on the sides of the face that could expose the wearer to the disease.
“It’s amazing to me, I see people that have it half-dangling on their face or children in an adult sized mask, that’s not even helpful. Again, you are not covering your nose and mouth. That is the purpose.”
If you are going to the store or running an essential errand, Allen-Bryant said it is best to put the mask on before you leave your car. Cloth masks should also be washed after every use.
Disposable masks should be removed by grasping the outside of the mask that was not in contact with the nose and the face. Also, she said, to wash you hands for at least 20 seconds with hot water and soap after taking off the mask.
As businesses reopen, Allen-Bryant urged people to take the directive to wear a mask seriously.
She understands there are barriers. People wearing masks in places of business have traditionally been associated with crime. For African-Americans in particular red or blue bandanas have historically been associated with gang activity, she said.
She also knows that there is something in the independent American spirit that goes against anything that seems to in fringe on our rights.
“We as Americans enjoy our freedom and there is something about telling us to do something that doesn’t sit well with us.”
But, she said, “as a health care provider and a mother it really is a safety issue: Let me look out for my neighbor, let me look out for my family and let me look out for myself.”
She sometimes hears people say “we don’t have that here in my county” but a virus doesn’t recognize manmade boundaries.
“Even if Scott County doesn’t have a new case today, there may be one tomorrow,” she said. Plus Georgetown is both intimately connected with Lexington and a regional shopping hub.
“We are not self-isolating communities. We are not little villages where it takes about half a day by wagon to get somewhere.”
For more information check out the web page of the Lexington Fayette County Health Department or the WedCo Health Department, which serves Scott County.