Dr. Ray Pontzer answers questions and masks and the coronavirus.By Kristine Sorensen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — KDKA anchor and reporter Kristine Sorensen talked with Dr. Ray Pontzer, head of infectious disease at UPMC St. Margaret Hospital, and asked him about mask safety.

Sorensen: How often should we wash our masks?

Dr. Pontzer: I really think over a cumulative period of time, probably six to eight hours of wear, then you should think about washing the mask, cleaning the mask — a cloth mask, that is.

Sorensen: And how should you clean the mask? What’s the best way to clean the mask?

Dr. Pontzer: There are multiple recommendations out there from various sources on how to clean masks. Going back to the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, they say that you can put the mask in the washing machine, they suggest hot water.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

I think that using warm water or hot water helps the soak to clean the mask and that way, I don’t feel that the water has to be excessively hot. Just cleaning it and drying it is important also. So you want the mask to be totally dry before you use it. And you can either dry it in a dryer, or you can put it out to air dry. Either way is fine, but you don’t want a moist mask because they are not going to work as effectively as a dry mask is.

Sorensen: Let me ask you about those gaiter masks because there’s been conflicting information about how effective they are. How effective are those gaiter masks?

Dr. Pontzer: Going back to the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, they specifically do not recommend the gaiter mask in public places. They feel that there’s not enough science there. They do recommend cloth masks. They prefer at least two layers of cloth. The World Health Organization says you should have three layers of cloth. So the more layers, it just is intuitively better to have more layers to block it.

Kristine Sorensen