Mask An MD: With Aiya Aboubakr, MD
Name: Aiya Aboubakr, MD
Occupation: Internal Medicine Physician
Why wear a mask?
“Well, why not? Simply put, wearing a mask minimizes the spread of COVID, and protects both those who wear it and those around them. If someone wearing a mask coughs or sneezes (even laughing or talking), the transmission of their respiratory droplets is greatly reduced due to mask wearing. Similarly, if you are around someone who may be coughing, wearing the mask protects you. It is important to recognize that alongside wearing masks, people should continue to physically distance, avoid close-contact settings and frequently wash their hands.”
Why wear a medical/premium grade vs cloth face covering?
“A medical grade mask is preferred due to its design in reducing transmission of respiratory droplets that may pass through cloth masks. I prefer to use medical-grade masks, as they were designed with purpose and are required to meet specific criteria.”
Why is mask compliance more important as we head into the winter months?
“We are already starting to see a rise in cases as we head into the winter, a time when vulnerable populations (think elderly and immunocompromised patients) often fall sick with respiratory infections like the flu. Interestingly, the number of influenza cases are suspected to be lower than usual, likely due to mask wearing, but the winter is also traditionally a time of crowd gathering (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, etc.). Everyone will have to try to find ways to celebrate safely.
How is the safest way to wear and care for a mask? Do masks get “old”?
“Depending on the type of mask, it can be used either once or multiple times. Generally speaking, you should ensure that your mask if not damaged due to wear and tear; if there are any signs of pilling or tears, or if it gets contaminated, it’s time to discard.
How does a wearer make sure a mask “fits” well?
“In order to ensure a standard mask fits well, it should cover your nose (sitting at the nose bridge) and below your chin, without slipping down or requiring much adjusting.”
Can I still get COVID if I'm wearing a mask?
“It is theoretically possible, but much less likely than if not wearing the mask. I have taken care of many, many COVID patients but am lucky to have not gotten COVID, because I was always wearing my correct PPE (mask included). It’s important to socially distant in those instances where you aren’t wearing you mask, e.g. taking a mask break to drink your coffee or water or eat a meal outdoors. Many people don’t realize how often they pull down there mask when outdoors.”
Who you mask up for (i.e who do you wear a mask for?)
“I mask up for my community – my parents and loved ones, my vulnerable patients, my medical colleagues, my beautiful New York City, and my future.”
Favorite barrière mask
The original Leopard Mask, duh!