Face Covering Q&A
COVID-19 is spread mainly by person to person contact and the best means of slowing the spread of the virus is by practicing social distancing and by minimizing personal contact.
Not everyone who has COVID-19 is symptomatic. Wearing a face covering reduces the chance of transmitting the virus to another person and vice versa.
Wearing a face covering is one of several measures we can take to prevent the spread of the virus. The other measures include: maintaining a distance of 6 feet from other people; frequently washing your hands and using hand sanitizer; and staying home if you are not well.
How do you define a “face covering”?
A face covering is anything that covers your nose and mouth, including dust masks, scarves and bandanas. Please do not use health care masks such as the N95 masks - those are made for health care workers and should be preserved for their use.
It is important that you wear a face covering or mask in situations where it is difficult to maintain a social distance of six feet from others. This includes, for example, in a pharmacy, grocery store or on public transportation.
What is the best way to use a cloth face covering or a mask?
Face coverings should:
fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
be secured with ties or ear loops
include multiple layers of fabric
allow for breathing without restriction
be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
Face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2. For children between the ages of 2 and 5, it is up to the child’s parents or guardians to decide if the child should wear one. Face coverings should not be placed on anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. In addition, individuals who lip read as part of their method of communication do not need to wear face coverings or masks.
When putting on and taking off a mask, do not touch the front of it you should only handle the ties or ear straps. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching the mask.
Where can I get a face covering or mask?
Masks are available for purchase in stores and online. Face Covering Do's and Don'ts and instructions on how to make your own cloth mask are available on the CDC web site.
Do face coverings or masks need to be cleaned? If so, how do you do that and how often?
Cloth face coverings should be washed and dried without damage or change to shape. When putting on and taking off a mask, it is important to not touch the front of it and handle the ties or ear straps. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching the mask.
What is the scientific evidence that supports wearing face coverings or a mask?
Because so many people who have COVID-19 show no symptoms, wearing cloth face coverings reduces the chance of transmitting the virus. This is especially true when someone with COVID-19 comes within 6 feet of you, which is considered “close contact,” the range that increases transmitting infection through acts like sneezing or coughing.
Face coverings help reduce the amount of droplets that you emit when you are speaking, breathing, or exhaling. Reducing the number of droplets reduces the chance that you will spread the virus that causes infections.
Face coverings don’t replace social distancing, but they do help. That is why it’s important to stay more than 6 feet away from others.