'Duck and cover' takes on new meaning during COVID-19

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Abigail Klein
  • 931st Air Refueling Wing

Unless working actively in the medical squadron, most members of the 931st Air Refueling Wing at McConnell are not in the habit of daily wearing a protective face mask or covering unless it was time to don full Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear.

This all changed last month with Department of Defense guidance implementing the wear of a face during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance was part of an effort to slow the spread in locations where Airmen and Civilians are unable to maintain a distance of six feet apart from each other in their work stations.

"When the six feet apart social distancing is difficult to maintain, it is recommended to wear cloth face masks or homemade face coverings in public to slow the spread of the coronavirus," said Senior Master Sgt. Anneliese Barrier, 931st Aerospace Medicine Squadron Senior Medical Administrative specialist. "Even if you believe you are healthy and show no symptoms, you should wear a face mask or covering."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection's official website, recent studies showed that people without symptoms played a significant role in spreading the virus than previously known.

"Just because you do not have symptoms that does not necessarily mean you are not able to spread the virus," said Barrier. "Cloth masks do not provide the same level of protection as medical-grade masks [N95 respirator masks or surgical masks], but they can block large and small droplets from coughs and sneezes."

The daily routine of applying a mask or face covering was an adjustment for many Team McConnell members, especially if a member's job requires a lot of communication.

"The vast majority of my job is communication, so while I don't need a mask all of the time, when I do it forces me to slow down," said Captain Mike Schmidt, 931 ARW chaplain. When I do have to [wear the mask] you realize the words you do choose matter, so it's important to choose words wisely."

For Airmen and civilian still looking for masks or face coverings, Barrier recommends looking online or making them at home. The official CDC website also has information on how to make face masks and coverings from household items.

Barrier also recommends that in addition to wearing a mask, people should still continue use additional preventative meausres, including avoiding touching the eyes and face and washing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds after touching items that may have been touched by other people.

For more information on protective masks or were to find them, visit www.cdc.gov, www.osha.gov or the www.redcross.org.