Should I wear a mask?

  • My mask protects you, your mask protects me.
  • Science, not politics.
  • Yes, wear a mask in public, especially indoors.

Questions and answers about masks:

Q1: Can a cloth mask protect me from getting COVID-19?

A cloth does offer you some protection from the virus.

It is even better at preventing you from spreading it.

So – If other people wear a mask, it protects you. If you wear a mask it protects others. 

If you both wear masks, everyone is protected.

We just learned that wearing a mask protects you more than we originally thought.

Q2: Are face masks enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

They help A LOT. They can cut the chance of person to person spread by about 70%. It is also important to wash your hands often. Stay at least 6-feet apart from people you do not live with and avoiding crowd spaces – especially indoors.

Q3: At first I heard we shouldn’t wear masks, what changed?

Early on, experts didn’t know that people were contagious were before they had symptoms. They were really worried about the mask shortage in hospitals.

Now we know that the virus is very contagious – even when people don’t have symptoms. Data showed that masks help a lot. They learned from their mistake.

Now experts universally agree that wearing masks saves lives.

Q4: Will a cloth mask prevent me from spreading the virus to others?

Yes. A cloth mask over your nose and mouth with no gaps does a pretty good job of preventing virus spread. Don’t forget – you can have COVID-19 without having any symptoms.

Q5: How do cloth masks work?

The virus spreads when people inhale tiny water droplets or vapor from infected people. When you talk, shout, sing, cough, sneeze or breath you give off vapor and some droplets. If you have the virus, it goes with them. 

A cloth mask will catch most droplets and vapor so that it can’t get to other people. 

Q6: What’s the difference between a surgical mask, an N95 and a cloth mask?

N95 masks: filter out 95% of particles, including virus particles. They can catch virus particles before people breath them in. 

Problem: we still have shortages of N95s, and we need to save them for people who are at the most risk, and where there are the highest amounts of virus: hospitals, clinics and testing centers. 

Surgical masks: In between N95s and cloth masks. They are good at preventing droplets and vapor from getting in or out.

Problem: There is still a shortage of these masks for healthcare workers, however, so the general public should stick to cloth masks.

Cloth masks: Basic filters made of cloth. 3-layers are better than 1.

Unless you are high risk, use a cloth mask.

High risk = someone who is elderly, has a medical condition, or someone who works with sick people.

Q7: Is there still a shortage of N95 masks?

As of July, 2020 there is still a shortage of N95 masks. This will likely be the case until we have a reliable production of more high-quality N95 masks.

Q8: Is there still a shortage of surgical masks?

As of July, 2020 there is still a shortage of surgical masks. This will likely be the case until we have a reliable production of more high-quality surgical masks.

Q9: Is wearing a mask a political statement?

No. Doctors and researchers are the people saying that we should use masks. Until we have other ways to prevent the spread, experts recommend everyone wear masks in public. Listen to the experts. Don’t worry about the politicians.

Q10: Does it violate my civil rights to be forced to wear a mask?

No. In the same way it doesn’t violate your rights not to be allowed to smoke in a restaurant or wear a seatbelt, or to be asked to keep your kid home from school if they have a fever.

Laws give state and local governments a lot of room to make these decisions during a public health crisis. Private businesses may enforce rules as long as they apply to everyone. The reason many businesses and governments are requiring masks is to try to protect people and gain control of the virus so we can get back to normal.

Q11: Can you get carbon dioxide poisoning from wearing a mask?

No. If you can blow out a candle from 12” away while wearing your, you’re fine. If not, get a mask with a lighter fabric.

Carbon dioxide does not build up over time.

Q12: Are there people who should not wear masks?

According to the University of Maryland Medical System there are a small number of people who   who shouldn’t wear masks: 

  • Children under two years old.
  • People with (real) breathing problems.
  • People who can’t remove the mask without assistance, such as those who are incapacitated or disabled.

If you cannot wear a mask, you should avoid going out in public. If you call the store and tell them your issue, they will provide curbside service if they can.

They’re usually pretty nice about it.

REFERENCES:

Here’s where we got our information.

Arizona State University: How do Face Masks and Respirators Work? | Risk Bites | Andrew Maynard 

CDC: Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19 

CDC: Recommendation Regarding the Use of Cloth Face Coverings, Especially in Areas of Significant Community-Based Transmission  

Mayo Clinic: COVID-19: How much protection do face masks offer?

NPR: Why There Are So Many Different Guidelines For Face Masks For The Public

Stanford Medicine: 5 Questions: Stanford scientists on COVID-19 mask guidelines

FactCheck.org: COVID-19 Face Mask Advice, Explained  

University of Maryland Medical System: Masks and Coronavirus

FDA: FAQs on Shortages of Surgical Masks and Gowns During the COVID-19 Pandemic

realityteam

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