With the start of the new semester, there are certain new rules that all students must follow that were not necessary previously to the COVID-19 pandemic. By now, everyone likely knows that it is essential to wear a mask and follow proper social distancing protocols. In order to have a safe semester, and to stay on campus until Thanksgiving break, these rules are vital to follow. However, not everyone may be aware of why they are so important.
Numerous scientific studies have emphasized the importance of wearing a mask. The way a mask works, when worn correctly, is that it traps the saliva, respiratory secretions and other droplets present when wearers talk, breathe, cough or sneeze. This way, if any individual is an asymptomatic carrier — someone who has COVID-19 but does not show any symptoms — others are protected.
Without a mask, studies show that the droplets released when people cough may travel up to 12 feet in the span of 50 seconds. With a stitched cotton mask, however, the same droplets only travel approximately 2.5 inches.
From what is currently known about COVID-19, research shows that the coronavirus can spread through droplet transmission, among many other means. Wearing a mask is one way to prevent this from happening, thus keeping everyone on campus safe.
Not only do people need to wear masks, but everyone must also wear masks properly. Masks need to cover both the nose and mouth, as droplets can escape through both orifices. A study from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Public Health suggests that it is especially important for a mask to cover the nose because the coronavirus tends to infect the nasal cavity to a great degree. Therefore, covering the nasal cavity is essential to protecting others.
Whenever people travel in public, it is essential to wear a mask properly. In addition, remember to practice social distancing, which is important because droplets can still travel short distances, even with the use of a mask.
The best way students of the University of Connecticut can protect one another is to wear a mask and remember to practice social distancing. In order to have a safe semester, this must be the new normal.