There's controversy about mandated face masks and the best types of coverings, but there's no debating that masks can reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
A person infected with COVID-19 spreads virus via tiny droplets when they cough, sneeze, or talk. These droplets can then travel into another person's mouth or nose and make them sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, wearing a face covering can stop respiratory droplets from spreading, according to the CDC. That's why the organization recently updated their guidelines to caution people against wearing masks with vents or valves. These masks release exhaled air through the openings, which can then travel and infect others with COVID-19, according to the CDC.
What type of mask should you use?
The effectiveness of your mask depends on a variety of factors, including fit and personal hygiene. You'll want to wash your hands before and after handling your covering to avoid contamination.
A properly fitted mask sits snugly against the sides of your face and covers your nose and mouth. The CDC advises against buying medical masks, as these are in short supply and should be reserved for medical workers. Instead, you can purchase a mask online or easily make one at home.
When should you wear a mask?
Everyone over the age of two should wear a mask in public, according to the CDC. Asymptomatic people who do not know that they're sick may spread COVID-19 to others, which is why experts recommend physical distancing and wearing a mask around people outside your home.
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