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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.
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, recommended Jennifer Grant, MD, a NorthShore Infectious Disease physician.
“There is no recommendation to routinely wear a mask at this time," advises Dr. Grant. "In fact, wearing a mask can lead people to touch their faces more and may potentially INCREASE their risk of getting sick with germs on their hands."
When should you wear a face mask?
You should wear a facemask when you're sick. If you don't have a facemask, use a bandana when around other people, including home and when you go to a medical office. This protects other healthcare providers, other patients, and the public.
If you are sick and 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:
For more information, visit our COVID-19 Prevention and Care Tip Guide.