Do I Need to Wear a Face Mask?

With three-digit temperatures  in some parts of Arizona, many people are asking if they really need to wear a mask when in public. While it might be uncomfortable, wearing a cloth mask continues to be one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. One of the main reasons to wear a mask is that some people who are infected might not have any symptoms and wearing protects those around you. 

But what is the best way to wear a face mask? Should it cover my nose, mouth and chin? When it’s hot out, it’s a bit more comfortable to only cover the mouth and leave the nose exposed. Is this okay? And when can it be removed? Getting into a hot car can make it hard to breathe, even more so with a mask. Should you wait until you get home to take off the face mask? Then, there’s the best way to take off the mask. What part of the mask should I avoid touching? How often should it be washed (if not disposable)?

To help answer some of the questions related to the proper use of face masks, AHCCCS shares tips from The Center for Disease Control (CDC) on how to safely wear and take off a cloth face covering. 

HOW TO PUT ON A FACE MASK 

  • Wash your hands before putting on your face mask
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin 
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face 
  • Make sure you can breathe easily
  • Do not place a mask on a child younger than 2 years old

HOW TO WEAR A FACE MASK

  • Wear a face mask to help protect others in case you’re infected but don’t have symptoms 
  • Keep the mask on your face the entire time you’re in public 
  • Don’t put the mask around your neck or up on your forehead 
  • Don’t touch the face mask, and, if you do, clean your hands

HOW TO TAKE OFF A FACE MASK

  • Wait until you get home to take off your face mask
  • Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops 
  • Handle only by the ear loops or ties 
  • Fold outside corners together 
  • Place face mask in the washing machine
  • Wash the mask after each use or dispose
  • Wash your hands with soap and water

FOLLOW EVERYDAY HEALTHY HABITS

  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others 
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick 
  • Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds each time 
  • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available

ISOLATE IF YOU HAVE SYMPTOMS OR ARE INFECTED 

If you have mild symptoms or know you’re infected, follow your doctor’s advice around isolation and avoid exposing others. If you can’t avoid going out (e.g., going to the doctor), wear a mask to protect others.

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Resources to Help Cope with Stress, Anxiety and Other Mental Health Concerns During COVID-19

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The unexpected challenges brought on by a global pandemic cause not only fear of contracting the Coronavirus, but also stress and anxiety. Increased caretaking responsibilities as schools closed, the economic impact of a reduced workforce, the confinement of social-distancing, and the uncertainty of not knowing when life will return to normal, create the perfect storm for mental health challenges. During Mental Health Awareness Month, AHCCCS reminds members that mental health resources are available and mental health services covered.

Stress and anxiety can be different for different people and can include difficulty sleeping or concentrating, changes in eating patterns, or increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other substances. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares ways to deal with stress and anxiety so members can take care of themselves and loved ones during the pandemic.

Six Ways to Cope With Stress & Help Others Who Are

  1. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  2. Take care of your body.
    1. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
    2. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
    3. Exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.
    4. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  3. Make time to unwind. Try to do activities you enjoy.
  4. Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you feel.
  5. Get the health care you need. Contact your health care provider to discuss consulting options during the pandemic such as telehealth.
  6. Check on your neighbors who live alone; those living in isolation are at greater risk for depression and suicidal thoughts. 

Continuing mental health treatment during this time is extremely important, as symptoms can increase during a crisis. Virtual group or individual therapy and phone consultations are some of the ways health care providers are serving those in need. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety or depression, get help. 

For more resources on mental health services for AHCCCS members, see the Office of Individual and Family Affairs web page.

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Staying Mentally Healthy During Isolation

The COVID-19 virus has many in Arizona and around the world separating themselves from community like they haven’t before. Social distancing is recommended, including keeping at least 3 feet between you and anyone else in a public space. While staying at home or keeping a safe distance between others is the best advice, it may be hard on our emotional health.
While much of what is happening may leave you feeling anxious or like you do not have control, there are steps you can take to feel empowered and mentally healthy. We are not helpless: we can choose our response.
1. Make a list of what is in your control, and what isn’t. Focus on what you can control, like being diligent about hand washing, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and social distancing.
2. Think about what makes you feel safe. How can you feel safe at home? Maybe it is reading on the couch under a weighted blanket, or holding a pet. Perhaps it is watching a funny movie or playing a game online. Take steps to do the tasks now that give you a sense of security.
3. Get fresh air. Just because you are at home doesn’t mean you can’t take a long walk. There is a lot of research to show fresh air, sunshine and Vitamin D will help boost your mood. Physical health also helps mental health.
4. Try to only think about today. Worrying about tomorrow or the distant future can be daunting. Instead, focus on what is before you. Think of your senses. What is blooming outside in your neighborhood? Can you hear the birds singing from your kitchen? Are there clouds in the sky? Engage in mindfulness and meditation if you have moments when things feel out of control.
5. Connect with others. Call your family. Write old fashioned pen pal letters to friends. Join a chat group online. There are ways to connect without being in the same room. Talking with others who we trust about how we are feeling is important to our mental health. Talking with your behavioral health provider may be a good idea too.
If you’re feeling alone and struggling, you can also reach out to The Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

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