Memorial Hermann is trying to raise awareness by putting up posters at all of its hospitals, showing what happens when one person wears a mask, but another doesn’t.
"We know that the mask has two purposes. One is to keep the secretions within the space of the person that is experiencing COVID-19, so that's very powerful because we know that this spreads mostly by droplets. So if we contain the droplets within a limited space, we're not going to be seeing a lot of contamination of the air or the environment. Then we have the second purpose, which is a person that is not infected. The mask provides a surface that catches those droplets and filters the air, so we have double protection. So unquestionably, the safest situation for everybody is when everybody's wearing a mask," explains Dr. Luis Ostrosky, Professor of Infectious Diseases at UTHealth & Memorial Hermann.
"There's a small window of time within 48 hours of being fully sick, that you actually put out a lot of virus. So it's in these two days before you become fully symptomatic that you can spread the virus without knowing. So very important intervention is to really mask over time, because you never know if you're in that timeframe, or if you are going to become sick that afternoon, etc., so it really helps us to contain the secretions," says Dr. Ostrosky.
Memorial Hermann is really using information like an infographic (poster) to share with people to remind them if everyone is wearing a mask, it makes a huge difference in fighting this virus.
"It's a really interesting concept to try to grapple with which is: I'm not wearing a mask or need to protect myself, I'm wearing a mask to protect others. So this is when this really becomes a societal responsibility to wear a mask, and it shows you care about people and you are altruistic, and that somebody else's well-being is as important to you as your own," states Dr. Ostrosky.
Again, the two reasons to wear a mask is to protect yourself and to protect others.