My Mask Protects You; Your Mask Protects Me
Release Date: April 23, 2020
Masking has now been mandatory for several weeks for “essential business” shoppers and public transit riders in New Jersey. Two months ago, people would have been shocked to see someone walking into a bank with a face mask and gloves, but this is unfortunately the “new normal.” Masks don’t necessarily protect the wearer from getting the virus, but can be very effective in protecting people around them - namely essential workers.
Unlike the millions of Americans who can work from home during the COVID-19 crisis, healthcare professionals, first responders, grocery store clerks, delivery workers, warehouse operators, truck drivers, postal workers, construction workers, gas attendants and public servants are on the front lines keeping us safe and providing the public with essential services.
Protective measures like shelter-in-place and social distancing aren’t always an option for these individuals, leaving them and their families at a higher risk for catching the virus as they perform their critical duties. These essential employees continue to work in dangerous conditions, and many of them are experiencing a short supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).
In light of increasing evidence that asymptomatic COVID-19 individuals can transmit the virus and in order to protect those on the frontline, Governor Murphy ordered the general public to mask and for store owners to provide PPE for their employees.
A mask is worn to prevent the droplets that fly out of our mouths - when we speak, not just when we cough or sneeze - from being inhaled by those nearby. So, as we do our best to maintain at least 6 feet away from one another, our masks add another level of protection. My mask protects you, while your mask protects me. However, it is still extremely important to maintain appropriate distances between ourselves and others when in public spaces.
Like many of you, I do my best to limit going to the grocery store. I usually go on Fridays, make a plan, bring a mask, and limit my time in the store. Last week, when I did my grocery run, I was shocked to see a couple of people in the store without a mask, others attempting to use the t-shirt they were wearing to cover their mouths and noses, and I even saw two people wearing masks over their mouths and not covering their noses.
I cannot say that I was a mask expert before this pandemic, but I know one thing - the individuals described above are putting our essential employees at risk. With that said, I wanted to take an opportunity to share some resources and information on masking.
- Wash your hands before putting on your mask and after taking it off.
- When you put on the mask, make sure it covers your nose and mouth and fits comfortably around your face.
- Once you put your mask on, refrain from readjusting it or touching the front when you're taking it off.
- Replace your mask if it feels damp.
- When you're done with the mask, or replacing it with a new one, carefully take it off from behind or by the straps.
- Either dispose of your mask - IN THE GARBAGE or put reusable cloth masks directly into the laundry hamper.
- Wash. Your. Hands.
Since there’s a shortage of PPE, including masks, for doctors, nurses, and first responders, experts recommend that people don’t use the limited supply of medical masks, like surgical masks and N95 respirators, for themselves and instead leave those for health care workers. Consider using the following: bandanas, scarves, an old t-shirt, piece of cloth, a homemade mask, etc. Please see the additional resources below.
ASL Video Series: Easy DIY Cloth Face Covering
How To Make Your Own Face Covering Video
If you have PPE you wish to donate like N95 respirators, face shields, protective goggles, surgical masks, or other protective equipment, visit covid19.nj.gov/ppedonations.
Lastly, I’d like to thank you all for working together to help flatten the curve and protect those most vulnerable in our community. You are doing a great job, but we have to keep it up!
Mayor, Mendham Township