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Face masks: Read the latest on guidelines, tips for comfort and long-term wear

Here's a collection of our recent coverage, including tips on having a better experience.

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?

A homemade face mask stitched using two-layers of cotton quilting fabric. Using a coughing dummy in a lab, the test showed that respiratory droplets were impeded considerably compared to no mask use. [ Courtesy of AIP, Physics of Fluids ]

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

One of our face mask testers tries out the Jojo Siwa double ply machine washable face mask — a set of three printed with unicorns, rainbows and lots of pink are $10 at Target. It was a mixed mag for Victoria Messina, 3. Out of the pack of three, only one fit but she loved it. [ Theresa Messina ]

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

Dermatologist Dr. Jill Salyards recommends washing the face twice a day and using a benzoyl peroxide product to combat "maskne," breakouts that occur from wearing a face mask. [ MAGGIE DUFFY | Times ]

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.


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.

Tia Lofton's blinged-out mask received an Honorable Mention in Congressman Charlie Crist's Pinellas Homemade Face Mask Contest. [ Courtesy of the Office of Congressman Charlie Crist. ]

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Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

HOW CORONAVIRUS IS SPREADING IN FLORIDA: Find the latest numbers for your county, city or zip code.

LATEST ON CORONAVIRUS: Six things we’ve learned about the coronavirus since March.

MASK UPDATE: Find out where you have to wear a mask in Tampa Bay

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THE CORONAVIRUS SCRAPBOOK: We collected your stories, pictures, songs, recipes, journals and more to show what life has been like during the pandemic.

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