New information is emerging every day on how the new coronavirus spreads and the best ways to protect against COVID-19. The most effective protections include washing your hands frequently with soap and water and practicing physical distancing. However, wearing cloth face masks or coverings in public when physical distancing can’t be observed does offer protection against spread of COVID-19.
Should I wear a face mask or covering for coronavirus protection?
Yes, if you are in a public place where you will encounter other people, you should wear a mask.
Masks for the Public
According to the CDC, recent studies indicate a significant portion of people who have COVID-19 don’t show symptoms, and the virus can spread before they realize they are sick. This research — combined with the fact that the coronavirus can spread through close proximity to others, often by speaking, coughing or sneezing — led to their recommendation for the general public to wear cloth masks in public, especially in situations where physical distancing may be difficult, such as grocery stores or on public transportation, and in areas where there is a significant amount of community transmission.
Some states now require face masks in retail stores and on public transportation. In Maryland, face masks or coverings have been required in retail stores and on public transportation since April 18.
People with risk factors for severe consequences of COVID-19: This would include people over age 65 and those living with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, chronic lung disease, immunity problems or cancer.
While physical distancing and frequent handwashing are the best ways to protect against COVID-19, you should check with your doctor about the best option for you. Johns Hopkins Medicine offers these directions for a homemade mask and child-size masks, intended for use in non-patient care settings.