Even though we’ve lived in this pandemic world for over two years, there’s not a lot that is known about long COVID. The best defense that allows you to live a reasonably normal life is getting vaccinated and wearing a mask. These actions not only inhibit the spread of the virus but can also diminish its overall impact on your body.
However, with the rise of the BA.5 variant, the playing field is again changing. BA.5 seems capable of evading the immunity created by vaccines and prior infections. This means a mask and hand sanitizer will once again be the first line of defense for many. Unfortunately, the heat blanketing the U.S. makes wearing masks less than comfortable. Here is what you need to know about masking up this summer.
A virus mutates to survive. Fortunately, that doesn’t always mean the mutation makes the virus stronger.
Think of antibodies as a door. If you don’t have any antibodies, you have no door to keep the virus out. If you have antibodies from a previous infection or a vaccination, you have a solid door that is strong enough to keep most of the virus from entering your body. To combat this, the virus changes and BA.5 has adapted.
This does not mean the door is useless. It is still there, providing a great deal of protection against all the other variants. It is just this new one that is troublesome.
According to the CDC, a mask contains “droplets and particles you breathe, cough, or sneeze out. If they fit closely to the face, they can also provide you some protection from particles spread by others.”
In short, you can think of a mask as a door-draft blocker that blocks the gap beneath the door where BA.5 is slipping in or out.
In early 2022, the CDC posted a report that revealed that “Any face mask or respirator use in indoor public settings was associated with significantly lower odds of a positive test result compared with never using a face mask or respirator.”
Specifically, this report found that people who always wore a cloth mask in an indoor public setting had a 56% lower chance of testing positive for COVID-19. People wearing surgical masks had a 66% lower chance of testing positive for COVID-19. And people who wore an n95 respirator had an 83% lower chance of testing positive for COVID-19.
This means wearing a cloth mask still provides protection, just not quite as much as a surgical mask or an N95 respirator.
The Mayo Clinic concluded that while a mask may feel awkward or uncomfortable during moderate to strenuous aerobic physical activity, it does not significantly affect your heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, oxygen level or time of exhaustion.
However, other factors can come into play when your body is exposed to extreme heat. The most dangerous is perspiration. Once your mask gets damp, it might not allow oxygen through and you will need to remove it. Likewise, if you feel lightheaded, fatigued or weak when wearing a mask in hotter weather, listen to your body and remove the mask. Also, get out of direct sunlight, hydrate and to cool down.
It is important to note that these face masks were hand-picked primarily for comfort. As such, they provide different levels of protection against the virus that causes COVID-19.
This filter-equipped mask is made of quick-drying polyester that helps wick away moisture. The high filtration blocks 95% of virus and bacteria particles. It is comfortable, has an adjustable fit, comes with three filters and is machine washable.
Sold by Backcountry
The middle layer of fabric in this triple-layer mask features a silver ion antibacterial cloth to inhibit bacterial growth. It has a 3D fit that lets the mask wrap comfortably around your chin. The built-in pocket accepts a PM 2.5 activated carbon filter that is not included.
Sold by Home Depot
The three-ply masks in this value pack are designated for indoor and outdoor use. They are lightweight, which can help make mask wearing more bearable in muggy weather. If they begin to collect moisture, you should discard and use a fresh mask to maintain optimum comfort.
Sold by Amazon
This is an N95 pouch respirator. It features two headbands to achieve an ideal fit. The design of this respirator makes it up to 75% more breathable than the NIOSH minimum requirement while still providing exceptional protection.
Sold by Amazon
Kids require special care. These masks take that into account by offering a comfortable fit and bright, child-friendly colors that encourage use. Since each mask is individually sealed, it is easy to transport without fear of contamination or damage before use. The masks are lightweight, comfortable and have three layers of protection to help keep your kids safe.
Sold by Amazon
Every aspect of this mask is designed for comfort in hot weather. It is made from a chemical-free cooling fabric that helps distribute body heat. It is moisture-wicking, quick-drying, comfortable and protects from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays.
Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods
Bamboo is not only a breathable material that stays cool in the summer, it is also eco-friendly. Additionally, bamboo feels soft on the face and the purchase includes a PM 2.5 carbon filter that can filter out 99% of pollen, dust and smoke.
Sold by Amazon
These double-layer cotton masks are specifically designed for summer use. They are comfortable, lightweight, breathable and washable. They are also available in a wide variety of vibrant colors so you can express your individuality.
Sold by Etsy
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.