SIBLEY—Wearing masks around Osceola County has become commonplace, however, Dan Bechler advises people not to touch the masks once they put them on.
That was one message the Osceola County Emergency Management Agency coordinator shared during the board of supervisors’ meeting Tuesday, May 12.
“Your hands obviously are what’s carrying all the germs,” Bechler said.
“So with these face masks, I see a lot of people always constantly adjusting their face masks. That’s one thing we need to work on trying to avoid.”
He and Osceola County Ambulance director Sande Smith demonstrated the proper way to put on and take off face masks as well as protective gloves.
People should wash their hands before putting on a mask so no germs are transferred to it. Smith pointed out how N95 masks have a wire strip across one side, which is the part that goes over the nose.
“We see that a lot only because people are putting them on wrong,” she said. “Sometimes they’ll have the wire part down here on their chin. That’s not how it goes.”
Mask wearers also should make sure to squeeze the bridge of the covering tightly against their noses so their breath cannot escape through the opening.
“If you’re fogging up your glasses when you’re wearing a mask, that means it’s not properly doing what it’s supposed to be doing because everything’s coming out and everything’s going in where your glasses are,” Bechler said.
When removing a mask, one should be careful not to touch the face covering part, only the straps. Used masks should be set face down so the exterior touches any surfaces, not the part that had been in contact with the face.
“For us on the ambulance, we’re told to throw away after every use, but in here, if you put it in a paper bag, don’t leave it lying around on a contaminated surface — and you’ve got to think of every surface as being contaminated — if you put it in a paper bag when you’re not using it, you can reuse those things,” Bechler said.
Smith also demonstrated how to remove gloves, explaining the first glove should be grabbed at the outside of the wrist and peeled off inside out. The second should be grabbed from the inside of the wrist and peeled off in a similar way. The goal is to not touch the outside of either glove with one’s bare hands.
Board chairman Ed Jones asked how often reusable cloth masks should be washed. Bechler said he usually washes his personal cloth masks in the laundry every night but clarified he was not recommending everyone do likewise. When it comes to reusing gloves, he said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend reusing gloves or sanitizing them for reuse.
He and Smith also updated the board on coronavirus testing in the region. A Test Iowa site, for instance, was recently set up in Buena Vista County.
“So they are getting closer to us,” he said.
Jones asked if Bechler knew if any agriculture production facilities in Osceola County were being tested. Bechler was not aware of any but said he would not be surprised if such testing were to take place.
“A lot of what they look into is a lot of those employees travel back and forth from Nobles County into Osceola County, so they might be getting tested in Nobles County,” Bechler said.
Smith said she had heard Nobles County had been trying to test 2,500 people but did not know if the county had yet reached that goal.
Bechler also clarified coronavirus tests only showing whether or not the person tested has the virus at a particular moment in time.
“If you go in and get tested and you’re negative, that doesn’t mean you walk out the door and talk to somebody out of your excitement,” he said. “It’s just a snapshot.”