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Do Face Masks Protect Against the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Thursday, May 14, 2020 9:55 AM

By: Lauren McRae

It is understandable that you want to do all that you can to fend off the coronavirus, but infectious disease experts say wearing a face mask should not be your first line of defense. 

Unmasking Coronavirus

Like any respiratory disease, the most effective defense against the coronavirus, COVID-19, includes washing your hands regularly, covering your coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you are sick.

When should you wear a face mask?
You should wear a facemask when you go out in public or are around other people, including at home and when you go to a medical office. This protects other healthcare providers, other patients, and the public. If you don't have a facemask, use a bandana and anything else that can cover your mouth and nose appropriately.

It’s also important to wear a mask if you are sick. If you're not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then people who live in your home should stay in a different room.

If caregivers need to enter the room of a sick person, they should wear a facemask. If a facemask is not available, stay at least six feet away from the infected person. Limit all exposure as much as possible. After leaving the room, discard the mask and practice hand hygiene. Visitors, other than caregivers, are not recommended.

Here are top recommendations to help protect against the coronavirus:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
For more information, visit our COVID-19 Prevention and Care Tip Guide.