A TikTok video posted by clerk Joe Samaan has gone viral in which a woman states that she cut a hole in her face mask to make it "easier to breathe."
Samaan was working his shift at an S J Food Mart outside Lexington, Kentucky when a woman came in to pay for gas. Like many people, the woman was wearing a face mask to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The problem? She'd cut a hole in the mask, leaving her mouth and nose exposed. Footage shows the woman approaching Samaan and asking: "Hi there, can I get ten on pump one, please?"
Samaan completes the woman's transaction, before asking: "Where did you get that mask from?"
The woman replies: "Well since we have to wear them and it makes it hard to breathe, this [cutting it] makes it a lot easier to breathe."
Seemingly shocked by the response, the clerk clarifies: "Cutting it?"
The woman nods in agreement as Samaan jokingly responds: "Yeah sure I’ll do that too, thanks for the advice."
Samaan shared the video on his TikTok page, where it's since been viewed millions of times.
Unsurprisingly, commenters reacted with dismay. "Coronavirus also makes it pretty hard to breathe," one user remarked.
Another added: "That defeats the whole purpose."
"Well 70% of the people with masks I see don't have it covering their nose so that is also useless so give her a break," one user concluded.
This user called cutting the mask a "waste."
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that Americans wear a cloth mask while in public in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
"CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission," the agency explains.
"CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure."
"Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance."
"The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance."
Several states, including California, New York, and Maryland, have since made wearing a mask while outside mandatory.
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing and social distancing. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.