Mask Myths Busted

When the COVID-19 outbreak first made international headlines, many medical professionals recommended the use of medical face masks to help slow the infection rate. Some people took this to mean that wearing a face mask would prevent them from becoming infected, so they quickly stocked up, in an effort to protect themselves and their family members. However, you may not have to always wear a mask, but when you do, being mindful of how you wear it can go a long way in preventing the infection from spreading. Here’s what the World Health Organization (WHO) says about face masks.

Healthy people DO NOT need to wear a medical face mask, but can.
The WHO does not recommend that healthy people wear face masks, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently recommended that all healthy people do so when out in public. For reference, most masks do not prevent the microscopic virus from passing through the material. Masks are meant to stop water droplets, like those produced from coughing or sneezing, from escaping the nose or mouth, as that’s how the virus is spread. So, if you are not coughing, sneezing, or taking care of someone who is infected by COVID-19, you do not need to wear a face mask, but it may be a wise choice.

DO NOT adjust your face mask while wearing it.
If you need to wear a face mask, wash your hands before putting it on and make sure it covers your entire mouth and nose. There should be no gaps between your face and the mask, and you should not touch the mask while wearing it. If you do accidentally touch the mask, immediately apply hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap and warm water.

You CANNOT wear the same face mask all day.
Medical face masks must be replaced as soon as they become damp. When removing your face mask, avoid touching the front of the mask. Remove the mask from behind, discard into a closed bin, and clean your hands right away. Never reuse a single-use face mask.

The most important thing to remember is that while medical face masks may be useful in certain situations, they do not provide guaranteed protection against catching or spreading the virus. According to the WHO, “Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.” Keep washing your hands!