COVID-19 question of the day: ‘Can I reuse a mask?’

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MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — We’re answering your questions about COVID-19 when you call WKRG News 5’s coronavirus hotline and leave a message. The number is 251-662-3055.

This is the question for April 28: “I would like to know how many times you are supposed to use a mask going out in the public. Thank you.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we should all still be wearing a face mask that covers our nose and mouth when we have to leave home for essentials like groceries and prescriptions. Disposable masks are just that– disposable. They’re not meant to be reused.

“After one use you throw it away. For the cloth masks if you use it once a day you can then wash it. Hand washing is fine for 20 seconds and then drying it with a strong amount of heat is good. You can even put it in the washing machine and do it that way as well. You just want to make sure it still has the same elasticity as it did before,” said Nina Ford-Johnson, M.D., Infirmary Health Pediatrics.

And because viruses don’t just bounce off of the mask but instead get trapped inside it, you should wash your hands with soap every time you remove or even touch your mask. And wash your cloth mask as soon as you get home to make sure others in your home aren’t exposed to germs that may be on it. Also, don’t let the outside of your mask touch your face while you’re removing it. If you do, you’re exposing yourself to whatever germs the mask has collected.

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