As we head into our third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing has become increasingly apparent, this isn’t going to go away completely. This is particularly likely as new variants crop up, with omicron being the latest. What we can hope for is that the virus will become endemic and nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), such as masking, distancing, testing and quarantining can help speed this along. Even when COVID-19 becomes endemic, it will still remain a dangerous virus, particularly for vulnerable groups, so NPIs may still be necessary. Further, NPIs are helpful in curbing the spread of other respiratory diseases (Flu, RSV, common cold, etc.), thus, they are likely here to stay.
While there are many different mask designs, most are constructed of a continuous piece of material covering the mouth and nose of the wearer. This makes tasks, such as eating and drinking difficult, and increases the chance of the wearer removing the mask entirely and spreading infectious particles.
Researchers in the Luminosity Lab at Arizona State University have developed a novel mask that enables the wearer to access only their mouth minimizing release of infectious particles. The design features of this mask allow for one configuration with full mouth and nose coverage and then reconfiguration, on demand, to allow access to the mouth only. Coverage over the nose is maintained throughout the duration of wear to protect the wearer and anybody nearby. Further, even when the mouth is accessible, the inside of the mask is not exposed. Biocidal materials are utilized on portions of the mask to minimize touch-based contamination.
This highly reconfigurable mask makes everyday tasks more convenient for the wearer, increasing the chance of compliance and reducing the risk of spreading infectious diseases.
Benefits and Advantages
Because the nose is always covered, it allows for greater protection of the wearer and anybody nearby during more at risk situations (dining, dental visits, etc.)
Mask stays in the configuration that the wearer puts it in (exposed mouth or fully covered nose and mouth) without readjustments needed
Utilizes biocidal materials in the mask design to decrease the risk of infection
Greater compliance in mask wearing because of easy reconfiguration
No matter what configuration, the inside of the mask is not exposed