COVID-19: When Do You Need To Wear A Face Covering?

The best way to prepare yourself against COVID-19 is to stay home and avoid close contact with others. In recent weeks, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended only wearing face masks if a person was sick or caring for a person who may have COVID-19. However, due to new data, the CDC is now recommending everyone wear a mask. 

When to wear face coverings

A face covering should be worn in community settings to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This includes trips to the grocery store, the workplace, etc. A face covering should fit snugly and cover your nose and mouth but allow breathing without restrictions. If you do not have access to traditional face masks, face coverings can be made out of household items including scarves, sheets, etc. For instructions on how to make your own face covering from Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, click here

Why the change?

Recent studies have shown that a significant amount of people that already have the coronavirus are symptomatic. This means that they lack any symptoms but are still carriers and capable of spreading the virus. Due to this new evidence, the CDC is now recommending everyone wear face coverings in public settings. Children under the age of two or others that are unable to safely remove a face covering should not wear one. 

Even while wearing a face mask, it is important to continue to observe social distancing guidelines. This means, keep at least 6 feet between you and others around you at all times. A face covering is not an alternative to maintaining a safe distance between each other. 

If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly. The following are the World Health Organization’s guidelines on how to wear masks:

  • Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not reuse single-use masks.
  • To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

It is important to be considerate and not wear medical masks designed for healthcare workers, including surgical masks and N95 respirators that are in short supply.