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Living with face masks: How to stow them, reuse disposables and more – CBC.ca

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Now that wearing a mask to the mall, to the hairdresser and to school will be a regular occurrence for the next two years or more, a lot of questions have arisen about how it will fit into our busy lives.

Masks have recently become mandatory indoors in many cities across Canada and in the entire province of Quebec. The Public Health Agency of Canada is also recommending masks in schools for children over age 10, something that some provinces have already mandated.

Most of us have a handle on the basics, such as what types of masks there are and how to safely put them on and take them off.

We’ve also previously answered questions about:

  • The best materials.

  • Whether to use a filter.

  • How to sneeze or cough with a mask

  • How to stop your glasses from fogging up while wearing one.

  • Whether to wear goggles or face shields with your mask.

That said, now that we’re out and about while wearing masks a lot more than before, here are the answers to some more questions you might have.

Is it safe to pull down my mask and keep it under my chin?

You’ve probably seen lots of people doing this as they move back and forth between indoor spaces where masks are typically required and outdoors spaces where they’re not.

Is this safe? 

“No, that is probably the worst thing you could do with the mask,” Dr. Zain Chagla, a professor and infectious disease specialist at McMaster University in Hamilton, said in a recent interview with CBC News.

WATCH | What’s the safest way to wear a mask when not using it?

An infectious disease physician answers viewer questions about the COVID-19 pandemic including whether it’s safe to pull a mask around the chin when it’s not in use. 2:18

That’s because it risks getting droplets or germs on the outside of the mask onto your chin and lower lip, he says. “You’re basically putting all that stuff in your mouth and defeating the purpose of wearing a mask.”

And of course, pulling the mask down often involves touching the front of it, which is not recommended, as it could contaminate your hands. (Remember that you should only hold the mask by the ear loops and wash your hands before and after).

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be transmitted when infectious droplets enter through the eyes, nose or mouth.

Can I hang a mask on my rearview mirror between uses?

Dr. Anand Kumar, a professor of medicine at the University of Manitoba, says that depends on the level of risk it’s been exposed to.

“As a physician, given the exposure I get in the hospital, I probably wouldn’t do it,” he says.

Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an associate professor at the University of Alberta’s Division of Infectious Diseases in Edmonton, has previously recommended against it, too.

But Kumar acknowledges that the risk of infection in most public places in Canada is currently low, and if you were wearing a mask in a low-risk environment, it’s probably OK to leave it hanging from the mirror overnight to wear the next day. That said, ideally you should change and wash your mask after each use.

What’s the best way to stow a mask while on the go?

Kumar says in a higher-risk environment, such as a community with outbreaks, it’s best to keep the mask on at all times, even when you’re outside between buildings.

“If you’re putting the mask on and off, it gives you more chances to contaminate yourself with it,” he says.

Technically, the proper way to carry a mask between uses would be to put it in a paper bag and carry it around with you, he suggests. Paper is better than plastic for mask storage because plastic keeps the moisture in, which could allow bacteria to grow in the mask, he says.

In places where the risk is low, Kumar says, it’s OK to put the mask in your pocket.

WATCH | Guidelines on how to wear a mask safely:

Glasses fog up? Not sure how often to wash the mask? CBC’s Tina Lovgreen demonstrates how to wear a mask safely. 1:51

Can you reuse a disposable mask? How many times?

While cloth masks are designed to be washed and reused, most medical-style disposable masks are officially designed for a single use — especially in higher-risk environments.

But Kumar says you can reuse them, especially if you’re just out and about in an area with a low prevalence of COVID-19. 

Between uses, he recommends leaving the mask in a paper bag for at least three days. During that time, any virus on the mask will gradually decrease.

He says it would be “perfectly reasonable” to have five to seven masks that are rotated into use on subsequent days.

How many times can you reuse a disposable medical-style mask?

Kumar says with this type of mask, what you see is what you get, so you can reuse it until it’s dirty, worn or damaged. 

“Obviously, you don’t want to reuse a mask that’s soiled,” he says.

N95 masks can also be reused, Kumar says. 

A disposable medical-style mask can be reused until it’s dirty, worn or damaged. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Can you clean a disposable mask between uses?

Yes. Medical-style disposable masks can be steamed or exposed to sunlight to kill the virus more quickly, Kumar says.

Experts don’t recommend using cleaners or especially disinfectants on such masks, as you could end up breathing them in the next time you use it.

Kumar says N95 masks contain filters that can be damaged with improper cleaning, but they can be safely steamed.

Of course, for cloth masks, washing in the laundry is “the most effective, easiest thing to do.”

It is possible to reuse disposable face masks like this one. If you store it in a paper bag for at least three days between uses, any virus on it should be gone by then. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

What should I look for when choosing a reusable mask?

As masks become a bigger part of daily life, you’ll probably need more of them — like socks and underwear. Reusable cloth masks are generally recommended to maintain a supply of disposable, medical masks for essential workers who need them.

Given the huge variety of styles and prices, what should you look for?

Kumar suggests a mask:

  • With multiple layers, as additional layers add more protection.

  • Made of cotton, since viruses remain detectable in some synthetic materials for a longer time.

  • With a good fit — the shape doesn’t matter, just the fit, since a tighter fit forces air through the mask instead of around it.

A higher price doesn’t mean a mask is better, Kumar says. His favourite cloth mask cost $4.

Wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19, an elementary school student wipes her hands with sanitizer before entering school for classes in Godley, Texas, on Wednesday. An Ontario doctor recommends that students bring two clean masks to school each day. (LM Otero/The Associated Press)

How many masks should your child have for school?

Alberta, which will require teachers and students in Grade 4 and up to wear masks in schools,  is providing two cloth masks per student. But Dr. Jennifer Kwan, a Burlington, Ont., family physician who advocates wearing face masks in public places to curb COVID-19, thinks students will need more to allow time for some to go through the wash.

She recommends that a child go to school each day with two clean masks and switch to a new one after lunch.

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7 COVID-19 cases linked to Yonge Street Warehouse – CBC.ca

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Toronto Public Health (TPH) says seven people who have tested positive for COVID-19 went to a Yonge Street restaurant within the last month.

Of the seven, five are staff members and two are patrons. All of which attended Yonge Street Warehouse, at 336 Yonge St., between Sept. 10 and Sept. 17.

The health agency wants to notify staff and patrons who visited the restaurant during the 8-day period about a potential exposure to the virus. 

TPH said they have followed up with all known close contacts and those individuals have been asked to self-isolate for 14 days and go for testing. 

Around 1,700 people may have been at the venue during this time, TPH said, however, people not already contacted are viewed as low risk.

“If you were at the Yonge Street Warehouse between September 10 to 17 but have not been contacted by TPH, you are not identified as a close contact,” read a statement released on Saturday.

Nevertheless, the health agency is still urging anyone who was there during the exposure time to monitor themselves for symptoms for 14 days after their last visit. 

If symptoms develop, the agency asks you to contact TPH, seek testing and immediately self-isolate.

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Quebec reports 698 new COVID-19 cases, seven more deaths – The Kingston Whig-Standard

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That’s the highest single-day count since May 21.

Quebec has recorded 698 new cases of COVID-19 — the highest single-day count since May 21 — bringing the province’s total to 71,005 as of Saturday.

Seven new deaths have been reported, all of which occurred between Sept. 19 and 24. The province’s death toll now stands at 5,821.

The number of hospitalizations increased by 18, for a total of 217. Of those, 33 were in intensive care.

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All our coronavirus-related news can always be found at montrealgazette.com/tag/coronavirus.

Sign up for our email newsletter dedicated to local COVID-19 coverage at montrealgazette.com/coronavirusnews.

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Quebec reports 698 new COVID-19 cases, seven more deaths – The Sudbury Star

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That’s the highest single-day count since May 21.

Quebec has recorded 698 new cases of COVID-19 — the highest single-day count since May 21 — bringing the province’s total to 71,005 as of Saturday.

Seven new deaths have been reported, all of which occurred between Sept. 19 and 24. The province’s death toll now stands at 5,821.

The number of hospitalizations increased by 18, for a total of 217. Of those, 33 were in intensive care.

Related

All our coronavirus-related news can always be found at montrealgazette.com/tag/coronavirus.

Sign up for our email newsletter dedicated to local COVID-19 coverage at montrealgazette.com/coronavirusnews.

Help support our local journalism by subscribing to the Montreal Gazette here.

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