In light of recent findings, the CDC now recommends that we wear face masks or cloth face coverings in public settings that might make it hard to practice social distancing. Face masks are not a substitute for social distancing. Face coverings are especially important to wear in public in areas of widespread COVID-19 illness. Wearing a cloth mask is recommended as an extra layer of protection, especially in situations where you may be near people.
CDC experts say recent studies show that nearly 25% of people who have the coronavirus may not show symptoms. Asymptomatic people can still transmit the illness to others. Pre-symptomatic individuals can spread the virus to others before they show any symptoms. The coronavirus can spread among people who are less than 6 feet apart.
A face mask will slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and don’t know they are transmitting it to others. Face masks can also prevent you from touching your face, and they are a reminder to practice social distancing.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.
What type of face covering is best to wear?
Cloth face coverings are recommended by the CDC. Surgical masks and N95 respirators are in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare workers or other medical first responders, as recommended by CDC guidance.
Cloth masks are effective at reducing the spread of the virus.
How to make a face mask
The CDC has instructions on how to make 3 different types of cloth face coverings – sewn and no sewing: T-shirt Face Covering, Bandana Face Covering, and Sewn Cloth Face Covering.
Click here for instructions from the CDC to make a face mask and face covering
How to wear a mask or face covering
The CDC recommends keeping these criteria in mind when wearing a face mask:
- Keep the face mask snug but comfortable against the sides of the face.
- The mask should be secured with ties or ear loops.
- Face coverings should be made with multiple layers of material.
- The masks must allow you to breathe without restriction.
- Masks should be machine washable and dry without changing the shape.
How to keep masks and face coverings clean
Face masks should be laundered after every use. Wash the masks on a gentle cycle using hot, soapy water, or wash them by hand. Dry the masks on high heat. If your mask becomes damaged or is heavily soiled, it is best to throw it away.
For the latest updates about the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), visit our Coronavirus COVID-19 Updates page.