Face masks going fast

Not using face masks can result in a misdemeanor charge and a $1,000 fine.

Fear of the coronavirus has led to the scarcity of face masks islandwide.

Most local medical supply stores have seen a rise in sales for surgical face masks. So much so, that most have sold out. A few stores still have small limited selections like Peggy’s in Yigo.

Retailers like Peggy’s in Yigo, along with Public Health, are known locations that still have small quantities of basic disposable surgical masks.

However, most experts cite evidence that wearing just any basic surgical mask is not enough to prevent the coronavirus.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the use of N95 respirators which are the recommended face mask due to their capacity to filter out very small particles that could possibly contain the virus.

A surgical mask is only able to stop larger droplets. The N95 is designed for a very close facial fit and if properly fitted, blocks at least 95% of very small test particles, though it doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of illness, according to the FDA.

These respirators are also more costly than basic disposable surgical masks leading to the lack of supplies here locally.

As the coronavirus continues to spread, the official advice may change and people are advised to keep an eye on the CDC website, which is updated whenever any new information is available.

Federal and local health officials also stress more effective preventative measures, such as frequent hand-washing and covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.