Valve face masks provide less COVID-19 protection

  • Published
  • By Kisha Foster Johnson
  • Robins Public Affairs

Recently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised their guidelines for proper face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Lt. Col. David Oldham, 78th Medical Group chief of Aerospace Medicine, meets weekly with Robins Air Force Base leadership to discuss best practices to fight COVID-19.

“I am trying to find the latest relevant research out there to make policy changes and recommendations, not just for the medical group, but also inform installation leadership for things that need to happen base wide,” said Oldham.

The current issue of concern is valved face masks and getting people to stop wearing them. Health officials report that masks with the exhalation valves defeat the purpose for why masks are needed.

 “A valve mask is a one-way valve where when you breathe in the valve covers the opening so you can breathe,” Oldham said. “And so as you breathe in, you do not breathe in stuff from the environment. “However, when you breathe out, that valve opens up, and if you are infected with COVID-19, you are breathing out that virus where others can breathe it in. We wear masks to protect others and not necessarily to protect ourselves-- even though we feel there is some protection value for ourselves.”

Cloth and disposable masks are considered ideal in the battle to beat COVID-19 transmissions. The CDC encourages people to wear a cloth mask when social distancing of 6 feet is not possible.

Oldham stressed, “From the community, we ask for patience while we in the medical community are trying to wrap our brains around the changing studies that are coming out regarding what is not safe for the community and what is.”