Wearing a Mask: Myths and Facts
Although getting the COVID vaccine is the most important thing you can do to prevent a coronavirus infection, wearing a mask is still important particularly if you are not vaccinated.
Even though Maryland lifted its mask mandate on July 1, 2021, if you are not vaccinated, you should still wear a mask for your protection and the protection of others.
When it comes to masks, there are still many misunderstandings about:
- How safe and effective masks are
- How to use them properly
- When and where masks are needed
Since children under 12 are among the unvaccinated, learn more about kids and masks and how to keep your child safe.
Where and When to Wear a Mask
Myth: You only need to wear a mask if you feel sick.
Fact: If you have not been vaccinated, you should still wear a mask in public, according to the CDC.
Studies suggest that many people who have coronavirus are asymptomatic, meaning they show no symptoms. You may have the disease and unknowingly spread it to others, including those with underlying conditions who have a higher coronavirus risk and are more vulnerable to severe illness. Asymptomatic carriers can increase the disease's spread if they aren't taking proper precautions, including wearing a mask, washing their hands frequently and social distancing.
Myth: If you've had coronavirus, you don't need a mask.
Fact: If you've had a coronavirus before or had an antibody test come up positive, you may believe that you don't need to wear a mask, even if you have not been vaccinated.
Unfortunately, at this time, there is no way to know whether having coronavirus once provides immunity from the virus again or how long that your immunity might last. This means that you could potentially catch the disease again and spread it to others.
We do know that the COVID vaccine are 100 percent effective against hospitalization and death. This is one reason why the CDC's guidance for vaccinated people allows them to go without a mask in public.
Mask Safety and Effectiveness
Myth: Cloth masks don't protect you.
Fact: Cloth face masks are effective. They create a barrier between your mouth and nose and those around you. This makes it more difficult for the droplets that spread coronavirus through coughs, sneezes and talking to reach other people.
Cloth masks mainly keep you from unknowingly spreading the disease to others, but some studies indicate that they may help protect you from large droplets and serve as an indirect reminder to avoid touching your face.
This is why wearing a cloth mask inside all retail stores and public transportation has been mandatory in Maryland since April 2020. And as more services such as getting a haircut or eating in a restaurant are being allowed, it is as important as ever to continue wearing a mask. We're all in this together.
Myth: Other masks are more effective than cloth masks.
Fact: Different types of masks serve different purposes, but cloth masks are highly effective for the general public. The average person who is not working in a medical environment with COVID-19 patients should wear a cloth mask to conserve personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers.
Myth: Masks can cause carbon dioxide (CO2) build-up.
Fact: Some people have suggested that carbon dioxide from exhaling gets trapped under the cloth and can make you sick. This isn't true. Properly fitted masks offer adequate airflow while still covering your nose and mouth. This makes the accumulation of carbon dioxide impossible.
However, people with breathing problems, children under age 2, and those who can't remove the mask without assistance should not wear one.
How to Wear Masks
Myth: The way you wear a mask is not important.
Fact: Wearing a mask correctly is the key to making it effective at preventing the spread of the coronavirus. According to the CDC, a cloth face mask needs to have the following in order to be effective:
- Cover both your nose and mouth
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the sides of the face
- Be secured with ties or ear loops
- Have multiple layers of fabric
- Allow for unrestricted breathing
- Able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or shape changes
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