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Run for wrong face masks amid coronavirus fear impacting construction industry

1 month 1 week 1 day ago Friday, February 28 2020 Feb 28, 2020 February 28, 2020 7:18 PM February 28, 2020 in News - Local

WESLACO – The construction industry is suffering the effects of consumer panic over the coronavirus.

Masks protect from breathing in all kinds of harmful particles. Many seeking masks filtering for COVID-19 are buying up the wrong kind. Construction workers rely on those “wrong” masks. Lately, they're harder to find.

"We've gone to Home Depot. We've gone to Lowe's. We've even gone to Sherwinn-Williams and they're all completely out of masks," said Cynthia Esquivel, CEO for On Point Construction. "There's a big problem right now, because there's a misconception of what kind of masks are necessary for the coronavirus that's out there right now."

Those masks are required for certain kind of projects. Esquivel said, "When we're remodeling, we're breaking sheetrock, we're painting and all of that dust has to go somewhere. We don't want it to go to the tenant space next door, so instead our staff is exposed to it."

Employees can opt to not wear them, but that can have medical consequences for the worker and legal implications for the employer.

If masks continue running out at this pace, it can affect the deadline of construction projects and the budget of those managing them. Esquivel said, "It would affect how long the project would take. It would also affect me on my side, as well, because of revenue. You have to supplement for that staff and have more people so that you're able to circulate them out faster."

Fortunately, Esquivel says they have some more masks in storage for now.

The CDC does not recommend the routine use of respirators outside of workplace settings. Viruses tend to spread within six feet from person-to-person.

The respirators that can prove helpful are known as N95 FFR respirators. They can filter out up to 95% of very small particles that can carry bacteria and viruses.

Masks like the ones used by painters or surgical masks are not designed to filter out particles that carry COVID-19.

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