WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield Regional Health Department director was food shopping recently when she saw a person take off their mask to sneeze.

“I’m like no, no,” said Health Director Megan Avallone in recounting the incident during a virtual Board of Health meeting last week.

It’s not the only example of poor mask etiquette that Avallone said she had seen around town. The health officer said she’s seen people take off masks to speak while standing near to each other.

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And then there’s the mask hanging around the neck. That’s also a no-no, Avallone said.

New Jersey’s Medical Director recently referred to it as “mask droop syndrome” — when people don masks but fail to cover their nose, mouth or both.

Edward Lifshitz, who heads NJ’s health department’s communicable disease service, said it is imperative residents not only wear face masks in certain settings but have them cup their chins and cover their noses in the process.

The CDC guidance includes the following on wearing masks:

  • Wash your hands before putting on your face covering.
  • Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
  • Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face.
  • Make sure you can breathe easily.

The state Health Department advises of the following:

“In New Jersey, individuals must use a face covering when shopping at essential retail businesses, entering a restaurant or bar to pick up takeout orders, and when traveling on trains, buses, light rail or paratransit vehicles.”

For the public’s use, the state health officials recommends cloth face coverings so as not to tie up supplies needed for first responders and health workers.

“The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks. They are not medical grade N-95 respirators,” the officials said. “Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.”

Masks, the officials write, are not a substitute for social distancing.

And here’s another piece of advice in support of public health.

“With an increase in testing availability, the health department encourages any residents who feel they may have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 to get tested,” said Avallone by email. “The Union County testing site at Kean University is now allowing for testing of asymptomatic individuals as well.”

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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