At my office and going around town, I see a lot of people wearing masks. A lot of confusion exists about whether and how to wear a mask. As someone who has worn surgical masks for over 40 years, I guess I have some authority to comment on this “new normal” (I hate that term!).
In normal use, surgical masks are supposed to protect the patient from bacterial contamination by the surgical team. Masks are only worn by patients when it is known they carry a highly communicable disease. In practice, mask wear is all over the place. I wear mine snugly, in part because, if I don’t, my glasses fog up. Anesthetists/anesthesiologists and nurses on the surgical wards are especially bad at mask wear. They wear them too loose, improperly tied, under versus over the nose, etc. Although I have worn masks for forty years, I don’t like them and take mine off as soon as I can.
The N95 mask that everyone talks about, because it is so effective in filtering out viruses, is awful. It is claustrophobic, stifling, and difficult to breathe through. I wore one in surgery, once. Never again. I also found that I could not understand people wearing these. Their words came out muffled. It made me concerned about what would happen in an emergency, when clear communication is crucial.