It’s my new mantra every time I go anywhere: “Keys-Phone-Mask! Keys-Phone-Mask!”

Our new normal requires all of us — including our children 3 years and older — to be vigilant about wearing masks in public: indoors, and outdoors when we are not able to socially distance.

This is not political. COVID-19 has no party affiliation and may strike any of us.

– Dr. Sharon Grundy

We know wearing masks works thanks to evidence-based science.  Most people do trust our infectious disease specialists, and do embrace this simple measure as part of everyday life — at least for the foreseeable future. 

Here’s what we know about how the disease is spread: 

COVID 19 is most often spread via respiratory droplets found in saliva, mucus and phlegm, which you may or may not see expressed in a cough or a sneeze, for example. Virus transmission through these contaminated droplets is dependent on variables such as environmental temperature, airflow and humidity. 

The virus also requires access, which is why behavior makes a difference. Wearing a face mask and maintaining physical distancing is proven to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

I recently read a study where researchers found wearing a face mask significantly reduced so-called “droplet clouds,” a phenomenon in which droplets are able to evade evaporation, thereby considerably extending the lifespan of the droplet from seconds to minutes. 

Additional findings from the same study demonstrate how when a person wearing a mask coughs, the respiratory droplets travel half as far than when he is not wearing a mask. 

Researchers note that severe coughing events while wearing the same mask may deteriorate mask efficiency. That being said, without a mask, droplet amount, size, distance, and threat is higher than with a mask. 

It’s important to note new research shows the type of mask matters. 

Neck gaiters and bandanas allow leakage through and around the mask and are not as effective as face masks that fit securely over your mouth and nose. 

Tight fitting masks may still allow for undesirable leakage, so check that it securely fits all the way around. Some masks provide filters that offer more protection, but are not mandatory. 

Wash your hands before applying your mask and get comfortable placing it to keep from touching your face. Be sure and wash your mask after daily use.

This is obvious, but don’t share masks with others. Discard masks that develop a hole or no longer fit securely.

Researchers stress that face coverings provide protection to both the person wearing the mask, as it will block respiratory droplets expelled from another person, as well as those around them. 

Face masks alone will not provide 100% complete prevention of COVID transmission, but it significantly lowers the risk. That’s why I encourage all of us to get into the regular practice of wearing a face mask. 

The combination of wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing are the two most important behavioral measures we can take to help lower our risks, get our kids back to school and keep our community healthy. 

Please join me in creating your own mantra to remind yourself to do your part!


Dr. Sharon Grundy

Sharon Grundy | MD
Telluride Regional Medical Center