SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Wearing masks is becoming a new normal throughout KELOLAND during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health officials are encouraging people to wear them when out in public. But what are they really doing? And why should you wear them?

Dr. Wendell Hoffman with Sanford Health says wearing a mask is a selfless act. He says when you wear a mask you’re protecting others.

“As the virus is rising in prevalence within our communities, particularly in Sioux Falls and Minnehaha and Lincoln counties, and because we also don’t know which one of us may be shedding the virus, either without symptoms or minimal symptoms. Because of that, it makes a lot of sense for everybody to wear some sort of covering over their face, which will help to contain the large droplets that could contribute to spread in my immediate circle,” Hoffman said.

Wearing a mask is another precaution people can take to help flatten the curve, Hoffman added.

“They (masks) should never be used as a substitute for other things that we’ve been talking about now for weeks and weeks. That is the social distancing, the washing of the hands, the focused environmental cleaning and those things. So, masks are in addition to what we are doing, but we do think they are an important measure,” Hoffman said.

During a KELOLAND News Special Report on COVID-19, Dr. Kevin Post with Avera added the importance of how to properly care for your mask so it doesn’t become contaminated.

“The best way to take off a mask when you have it on is literally to take it from behind the ear loops or the unties, and then lay it flat down on the surface in front of you. Don’t let it touch anything else. You should have it laying on kind of a clean like a paper or a napkin, and then do the same thing in reverse when you put it back on, and latch it behind the ears,” Post said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has additional resources that can be found on our Coronavirus Page, and down below.