We’ve all seen the images of people wearing face masks in public places in an attempt to ward off coronavirus. However, do face masks really prevent coronavirus?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend that people wear face masks to stop themselves from getting coronavirus, unless a doctor recommends it or they are health care professionals. Rather, people who have coronavirus already should wear face masks to reduce the chances of spreading it to other people, according to CDC.
“CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it,” the CDC wrote.
“A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms. This is to protect others from the risk of getting infected. The use of facemasks also is crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).”
The U.S. Surgeon General wrote on Twitter, “Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”
Here’s what you need to know:
WHO Has Also Released Suggestions for Mask Wearing
The World Health Organization recommends the following about masks and coronavirus:
“If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection. Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing. Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.”
WHO also recommends the following for mask usage:
“Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Cover mouth and nose with 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 re-use single-use masks.
To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.”
“We can’t get any. Everything’s back ordered,” Dr. Marc Habert, a pediatrician in Fishkill, N.Y., whose group works from eight offices in three counties, told the New York Times. “I was on a phone call earlier with the local department of health and they basically said the state has supplies, but we need to show we tried to order from three separate places first.
The CDC also has a page of guidelines about protective gear for healthcare professionals.