As cases of coronavirus continue to surge in parts of the U.S. the Center for Disease Control issued updated guidance Sunday of who should and who should not wear face masks as a measure to prevent spreading the virus.
According to the CDC, all people should wear cloth face coverings when they’re out in public and around people who don’t live with them, especially when social distancing isn’t feasible.
“This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows cloth face coverings reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth,” the CDC wrote.
But the CDC acknowledges there are some who should not wear face coverings.
Children Under 2, People with Breathing Problems & Those With Cognitive or Sensorial Development Issues Should Possibly Not Wear Masks
According to the CDC’s guidelines, children under 2 should not wear masks and kids in pre-K or early elementary school should not be expected to wear a mask for long stretches of time.
People with breathing issues that could be exacerbated by wearing a face covering or people who are “unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance” should also not wear a mask according to the CDC.
Other situations do not lend themselves to wearing a mask and the CDC outlined those too.
They say deaf and hard of hearing people and any caregivers they may have who rely on lipreading for communication may need to skip the mask in some situations, and “some individuals with developmental disabilities, sensory integration concerns or tactile sensitivities, certain mental health conditions, or limited cognitive ability may have a negative reaction to wearing a cloth face covering.”
The CDC says in those cases people should consult with their doctors.
Runners or people involved in high-intensity exercise are also not expected to wear a mask while they work out as it could hamper their breathing. Same for people who work in hot conditions. If there is a risk for heat-related illness or the mask being a safety hazard then that’s something they’ll have to work around as best they can, the CDC says.
They also say don’t try to wear a mask in the water. If going to the pool, beach or lake don’t wear a mask the water as the wet cloth makes it hard to breathe.
Though the CDC recognizes masks cannot be worn in all situations, they say “cloth face coverings are a critical preventive measure and are most essential in times when social distancing is difficult. If cloth face coverings cannot be used, make sure to take other measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread, including social distancing, frequent hand washing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.”
According to the new guidance, face shields are not known to “provide any benefit as a source control to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles. CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings.”
In fact, the agency says if you wear a face shield, you should still wear a mask with it.
‘We Need To Be Diligent About Wearing Masks But Everyone Has To Do It For It To Work,’ Doc Says
These updated guidelines from the CDC come during a time when mask-wearing has been a point of contention for some, even as medical professionals have said that wearing a face-covering when in public is one of the best defenses against the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Shannon Sovndal told Heavy in April, “We need to be diligent about wearing masks. I think that wearing a mask (and doing it appropriately) is the single biggest protection we have. But everyone has to do it for it to work.”
There are nearly 2.6 million reported cases of Coronavirus in the U.S at the time of this writing. Over 125,000 Americans have died from the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.