It’s understandable if you’re confused about all the information you hear regarding COVID-19. As researchers have learned more about this virus, recommendations from public health officials have changed. One of these changes included a push for the general public to wear face masks.
Wearing a face mask is one of the most important steps you can take to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, there’s still lots of misinformation out there regarding when it’s necessary to cover your face.
It’s important to take the time to sort out facts from fiction about wearing face masks. Here is some information to get you started.
FACT: You should wear a mask even if you have no COVID-19 symptoms.
If you have COVID-19, you can still spread it to others even if you don’t feel sick. Some people who test positive for the virus don’t show symptoms. Others just aren’t showing symptoms yet. Wearing a mask even if you feel fine is an extra layer of protection for you and people around you.
FICTION: You don’t need to wear a mask if you’ve already had COVID-19.
It’s still too early to tell how much immunity you have after getting COVID-19. Doctors don’t know yet how long you’re protected from getting it again. Even if you’ve recovered from COVID-19, you should still wear a mask when you’re in public. It may be possible to get the virus a second time and spread it to others.
FACT: The way you wear your mask matters.
Whether you choose a store-bought or homemade mask, you need to wear yours properly. Your mask should be large enough to cover your mouth and nose and fit tight up against the sides of your face. Choose masks with more than one layer of fabric that still let you breathe well.
FICTION: Cloth masks aren’t effective against viruses.
Cloth masks serve two purposes. First, they act as a barrier between your nose and mouth and the people around you. As long as the mask fits right, it can do its job to stop the spread of the virus. Second, a cloth mask also may prevent you from touching your face. That’s another way to transfer the virus into your body if it’s on your hands.
FACT: Wearing a mask can stop the spread of the virus.
It’s true that COVID-19 itself is small enough to pass through fabric. However, the virus doesn’t move on its own. It travels on respiratory droplets that leave your mouth and nose when you sneeze, cough and even talk. These droplets are larger than the virus, so a cloth mask can stop them before they spread to others.
FICTION: Wearing a mask forces you to breathe in too much carbon dioxide.
Some people have suggested that you breathe in unsafe carbon dioxide when you wear a mask. Yet, doctors and other professionals wear masks for hours a day without experiencing problems. As long as the mask fits you properly, you’ll still get enough oxygen to breathe. If you have a breathing-related condition like asthma, however, you may do better wearing a face shield. Reach out to your primary care provider for advice.
FACT: You should wear a mask in public places.
If you leave your home, you should wear a mask around other people. This includes going to places like stores, pharmacies, restaurants and offices where it’s difficult to stay socially distant. When you’re outdoors in places where you can be at least six feet away from other people, it’s harder to transmit the virus, so you may not need a mask. Still, you should always follow all local guidelines, which may include wearing a mask in areas like hiking trails or playgrounds.
FICTION: You don’t need to wear a mask if you practice social distancing.
Social distancing is just one measure you can take to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Although it helps reduce transmission, it doesn’t completely eliminate risk. You can still spread this virus to people who are standing or sitting six feet away from you, especially if you’re together for an extended period of time. Wearing a face mask adds an extra layer of protection.
Still have questions about coronavirus and what you can do to stop the spread in your community? We can help. Check out our COVID-19 Virtual Assistant Tool.
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