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What the CDC says about face masks -- a refresher

Face masks help stop spread of coronavirus, experts stress

Visitors wearing protective masks observe COVID-19 prevention protocols while browsing the Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture Court at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Visitors wearing protective masks observe COVID-19 prevention protocols while browsing the Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture Court at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Here’s a quick refresher on what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about wearing face masks to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19.

From the CDC:

  • Face masks help prevent people who have COVID-19, including those who are pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, from spreading the virus to others.
  • Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.
  • Wide use of masks especially helps protect those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 as well as workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in airports, seaports or other docks, bus terminals, and train stations).
  • Using masks along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, is one of the most effective strategies available for reducing COVID-19 transmission.

Read more from the CDC: Wearing of face masks while on public conveyances and at stations, ports, and similar transportation hubs

CDC’s recommendation back in April

Back in April, when the pandemic was first moving into states such as Michigan, experts were seeing a significant amount of virus spread linked to people who weren’t showing symptoms, meaning it could be transmitted by fine aerosol from talking or breathing. Doctors noticed a high level of community spread and said we should assume that anyone we came in contact with could be infected. Because of this, wearing a mask could prevent people who don’t know they have COVID-19 from spreading it to other people, the CDC said.

Read more: CDC Updates “How COVID is Spread” Webpage

The CDC recommended that all Americans wear a cloth mask over their face to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. The CDC still stressed the importance of hand washing, staying home and practicing social distancing.

Updated guidelines for face masks

On Aug. 27, the CDC released updated guidelines for selecting, wearing and cleaning face masks for the coronavirus pandemic. The CDC continues to stress you wear masks in public settings “around people who don’t live in your household and when you can’t stay 6 feet away from others.” Masks help stop the spread of COVID-19 to others, the CDC maintains.

In Michigan, there was a mandate to wear masks in public buildings and spaces since the governor’s order was issued in July. That order was struck down as part of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling, but was soon replaced by a new order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Here is the CDC’s full mask guidelines overview:

  • Wear masks with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19
  • Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
  • Masks should be worn by people two years and older
  • Masks should NOT be worn by children younger than two, people who have trouble breathing, or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance
  • Do NOT wear masks intended for healthcare workers, for example, N95 respirators

When selecting a mask, the CDC says people should avoid any masks with exhalation valves or vents (see the above graphic) because those will allow the coronavirus particles to escape.

The CDC do’s and don’ts over selecting the proper face mask
The CDC do’s and don’ts over selecting the proper face mask (CDC)

Find the CDC’s complete face masks recommendations/guidelines here.



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