Masks should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives; the use of a mask alone is not sufficient to provide an adequate level of protection against COVID-19.
If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, stay safe by taking some simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a reusable face mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue. Take expert advice where you live and work.
Make wearing a mask a normal part of being around other people. The appropriate use, storage and cleaning, or disposal of masks are essential to make them as effective as possible.
Here are the basics of how to wear a mask:
- Clean your hands before you put your mask on, as well as before and after you take it off, and after you touch it at any time.
- Make sure it covers both your nose, mouth, and chin.
- When you take off a mask, store it in a clean plastic bag, and every day either wash it if it’s a fabric mask or dispose of a medical mask in a trash bin.
- Don’t use masks with valves.
Evidence suggests face coverings have value in protecting public health, in crowded and less well-ventilated spaces, and where physical distancing is not possible.
A face shield is a piece of rigid, transparent plastic attached to a headband. The plastic piece covers the face, extending below the chin. You might have seen clear face shields on some health care providers, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dentists and dental hygienists sometimes wear them when working close to patients’ mouths. Doctors, nurses, and technologists might use face shields, together with face masks, when performing procedures that could propel blood or other substances into the air.
During this covid-19 pandemic, people also wear face shields over masks or N95 respirators for additional protection.
It is important to protect other people from getting COVID-19. Even if you are fully vaccinated and have a booster, wearing a mask provides an extra layer of protection, especially when you are around a person who may be at greater risk of COVID-19. Likewise, people who are at greater risk should strongly consider wearing a mask to help protect themselves.
Although being fully vaccinated and/or boosted reduces your chance of catching or spreading the coronavirus, it does not eliminate it entirely. If you are infected with the coronavirus and do not know it, a mask keeps your respiratory droplets and particles from infecting others.
Check the mask recommendations in your area to help decide whether you need to mask.