Face mask guidelines continue to evolve as scientists learn more. And soon teachers and school kids will be required to wear face masks all day.
The director of the CDC has said that the spread of COVID-19 could be under control in a matter of weeks if everyone wore one. With that in mind, we took a deep dive into what the latest guidelines say, but also assembled a panel of testers to find the most comfortable ones and gathered advice on making the experience easier to bear.
What are the latest guidelines?
Best masks: Valves and those soft neck gaiters are out of favor, but it turns out even the cheapest disposable masks are rated highly effective. Here’s what experts say about the latest guidelines and the most effective face masks to prevent respiratory droplets from spreading.
Heath claims weighed: And despite posts you still might be seeing on social media, there’s no evidence that wearing a mask can be harmful to you, the fact-checkers at Politifact found.
What our test panel found
Testing panel: With school starting up soon, teachers and school kids will be required to wear face masks all day. With that in mind, we assembled a panel of testers age 3 to 56 to wear three different styles of face masks for at least four hours. There were some surprising favorites among the masks they tested for comfort in long-term wear.
Reader and staff favorites: We asked readers to join the challenge and wear a face mask for at least four hours and they gave us their reviews. Also, Tampa Bay Times reporters and photographers offer some of their favorites and tips from working all spring and summer covering the news while wearing a face mask. Here are their face mask favorites and failures.
Tips and tricks to make a mask more comfortable
Take some advice: If you have to wear mask all day, there are number of ways to make it easier. We talked to doctors about skin care and how to get your kids’ cooperation. We also have tips and hacks on ways to relieve those sore ears, combat the chapped lips, fogged glasses and bad breath that make wearing a face mask all day uncomfortable.
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Play dress-up: Why face masks are on everyone’s back-to-school supply list.
Get creative: Check out the creative face masks that were awarded prizes in Rep. Charlie Crist’s Pinellas Homemade Mask Contest. More than 2,000 people voted online for their favorites and some of them were doozies.
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