If worn properly, a surgical mask is meant to help block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays, or splatter that may contain germs (viruses and bacteria), keeping it from reaching your mouth and nose. Surgical masks may also help reduce exposure of your saliva and respiratory secretions to others.
Does wearing a mask harm your health?
No, wearing a mask will not harm your health even if you are sick with a cold or allergies. If your mask gets too moist just make sure you are changing it regularly.
When should you wear a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic?
CDC recommends that people consistently and correctly wear masks in all public settings, when they are with anyone who does not live with them (including inside their own home), and when taking care of someone who has COVID-19.
Wearing masks is a CDC-recommended* approach to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), by reducing the spread of respiratory droplets into the air when a person coughs, sneezes, or talks and by reducing the inhalation of these droplets by the wearer.
Why is it recommended to wear a mask during COVID-19?
SARS-CoV-2 infection is transmitted predominately by respiratory droplets generated when people cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe. CDC recommends community use of masks, specifically non-valved multi-layer cloth masks, to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Masks are primarily intended to reduce the emission of virus-laden droplets (“source control”), which is especially relevant for asymptomatic or presymptomatic infected wearers who feel well and may be unaware of their infectiousness to others, and who are estimated to account for more than 50% of transmissions.1,2 Masks also help reduce inhalation of these droplets by the wearer (“filtration for personal protection”). The community benefit of masking for SARS-CoV-2 control is due to the combination of these effects; individual prevention benefit increases with increasing numbers of people using masks consistently and correctly.
What are the benefits of wearing face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. You should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick.
Should I use a surgical masks or N95 respirators to protect against COVID-19?
No. Surgical masks and N95s need to be reserved for use by health care workers, first responders, and other frontline workers whose jobs put them at much greater risk of acquiring COVID-19. The cloth face coverings recommended by CDC are not surgical masks or N95 respirators. Surgical masks and N95s are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by CDC.
Can face coverings reduce the risk of COVID-19?
A study of an outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an environment notable for congregate living quarters and close working environments, found that use of face coverings on-board was associated with a 70% reduced risk.
Do N95 masks offer more protection than a medical masks during the COVID-19 pandemic?
An N95 mask is a type of respirator. It offers more protection than a medical mask does because it filters out both large and small particles when the wearer inhales.