Woman wearing a mask in the grocery store

Wearing a mask with COPD can be difficult. Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wear masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

In April 2020 in Maryland, it became mandatory to wear a face-covering when going to indoor public places, like the grocery store or inside a restaurant.

Masks, or cloth face-coverings, protect you from spreading the virus to other people, although it doesn't necessarily prevent you from getting the disease.

Medical Exemptions for Masks

There are three reasons that the CDC approves not wearing a mask. They state that:

Cloth face coverings should not be worn by:

  • Children younger than 2 years old
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing, including those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face-covering without assistance

What to Do If You Have COPD

The best way to prevent coronavirus virus is to avoid coming into contact with anyone with the virus.

  • Practice social distancing. Be vigilant to stay 6-feet or more away from anyone you do not live with. Do not have guests visit your home.
  • Use a delivery service for groceries, medications, and other needs. Have the delivery person leave the packages outside your home to avoid contact with them. Do not allow them to enter your home. Learn more about how to get takeout safely.
  • Don't be shy – ask family members, friends or volunteers to do your errands for you. Many times they will offer. Take them up on it!

If you absolutely must go out:

  • Use "senior hours" to do your shopping. There are fewer people in the stores at those times.
  • Additionally, if you do venture out, time your trips wisely. Avoid wearing a mask in the heat of the day in the summer and going out when it is too cold in the winter. Severe temperatures can affect your breathing.
  • Stay away from others who are not wearing face covers.
  • If you cannot avoid being close to other people, one option is to wear a bandana. This type of face-covering covers your mouth and nose but allows for more air to flow through. This does not provide full coverage but is a better option than nothing.
  • Another option is to carry a mask with you and put it up on your face when someone is near and take it down when you are at a safe distance. Just make sure to not touch your face in between because your hands may have germs on them. Wash and dry the mask (and wash your hands) as soon as you get home.