A User’s Guide to Face Masks



How to put a mask on and take one off

Always wash your hands first. Don’t touch the fabric part of the mask — that’s essentially the germ filter, and you don’t want to spread whatever germs it has trapped. Use the ear loops or ties to secure your mask and to remove it. The coverage area should go from near the bridge of your nose to down under your chin and stretch about halfway or more toward your ears. Pull the ties and loops so that it fits as snugly as possible against your face. If your mask has pleats, the folded side should be down.

The writer Peter Hessler, who recently wrote about life in lockdown in China for The New Yorker, created names for the various ways in which people take breaks from masks while wearing them as a way to explain the right and wrong ways to wear a mask to his daughters. The “holster” is a mask pulled down and resting on the neck. The “flap jack” happens when a person takes one ear loop off to talk on the phone. And then there’s the “low rider.” “This is when you pretend that you are obeying the rules, but actually tug the mask down so that your nostrils are uncovered,” he said. All can make the mask far less effective in protecting against germs.

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