Local healthcare providers stress importance of wearing mask correctly

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A new UNC study says the coronavirus establishes itself in the nose first.

It’s just one reason why researchers stress the importance of face coverings.

In the East, we see many people who refuse to wear masks.

Others have them on, but keep them below their noses.

But front line workers say keeping the mask below your nose won’t protect you or anyone else from COVID-19.

Dr. Paul Cook heads the Infectious Disease Division at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine.

He witnesses the worst of the pandemic.

“I saw an elderly man as a patient with COVID,” said Cook. “He’s been seriously ill, requiring high concentrations of oxygen, and what he told me was interesting. What he said is, ‘before I got sick, I didn’t take this seriously and now I do take it seriously.’ All I can say is you shouldn’t have to get sick in the hospital to realize that this is a serious illness.”

Cook’s message to people in the East?

COVID-19 is not like the flu.

“This is worse than the flu,” he said. “It’s transmitted much more efficiently than the flu and the mortality rate and the hospitalization rate is much worse than the flu.”

Cook says people can save lives by wearing masks in public the correct way.

“Among the medical community, there is no controversy,” said Cook. “They work, okay? We put it behind our ears and make sure it covers our nose and we pinch this on our nose so that it’s a relatively tight fit.”

Jennifer Sheldon is an ER nurse at CarolinaEast Medical Center.

She says there’s also a proper way to remove your mask.

“Be very careful when you’re removing it so you don’t touch the contaminated surface, which is the front of the mask,” said Sheldon. “You want to remove the mask by your ear loops only without touching any of the front and make sure nothing comes in contact with that contaminated surface.”

Both Cook and Sheldon say COVID-19 is very real, and spreading in the East.

They say wearing a mask is one important way to stop the spread.

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