Should I Wear a Face Mask?

Fact or Fiction: A face mask cannot prevent me from catching COVID-19, but I can help reduce the spread by wearing one.

Fact. Common surgical face masks are not designed to block viral particles – the little droplets that are expelled into the air when you cough or sneeze while sick. These types of masks do not create a seal around your nose and mouth and therefore are not an effective method for keeping germs out.  

They are, however, an effective way to reduce the spread of viral particles. You might be saying to yourself – wait a minute, how is that possible? A mask can help keep me from spreading germs if I’m already sick, but it can’t prevent me from getting sick in the first place?  

Yes. That is exactly what we are saying here. The CDC indicates that surgical facemasks can help prevent further spread of viral particles for those who are feeling unwell. This guidance focuses on the 25% of Americans who may be positive for COVID-19, but are not exhibiting any symptoms. When people must go into public settings, such as grocery stores, a facemask can reduce the respiratory particles released in the air.  

So there is no confusion here – the face mask is not intended to protect the person who is wearing it, instead it is intended to prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to others.

Article courtesy of the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

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