As you read this, the CDC is weighing whether or not to ask all Americans to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, aka COVID-19. Meanwhile, face masks are in short supply at medical centers—and selling out on Amazon. We talked to doctors who made the case for wearing a face mask. Here are their 10 reasons why you should wear one now.
“Coughing and sneezing are the main way the virus goes into the environment and contaminates the air or different surfaces,” says Dr. Dimitar Marinov.
“Wearing a face mask can help you stop spreading a virus and also help small aspects of contracting a virus,” says Dr. Giuseppe Aragona, General Practitioner & Medical Advisor at Prescription Doctor. “If someone sneezed on your face, the mask may help. If you are the one sneezing, you are putting a barrier between you and that person.”
“The idea is that it protects the person wearing the mask and protects the individuals that the person with the mask comes into contact with,” says Dr. Johnny Franco, a board-certified plastic surgeon. “The mask will help decrease the spread of COVID-19.”
“If everyone took these safety and hygiene regiments seriously, we would be able to flatten the curve and return back to normal faster,” says Dr. Aragona.
“COVID-19 can be transferred from fomites or objects to your eyes, nose, and mouth by your hands and cause infection,” says Dr. Leann Poston.
“A face mask reminds you not to touch your face which protects you from coronavirus on your hands,” says Dr. Kate Tulenko.
“It protects others in case you are one of the 25% silent carriers,” says Dr. Tulenko. Even if you aren’t showing symptoms, you could still have the disease and unknowingly pass it onto others.
According to Dr. Tulenko, wearing a mask “provides a positive ‘social proof’ to others that they should be taking the pandemic more seriously.”
“For many health care workers that are in high-risk positions the masks have become a common recommendation at certain facilities,” says Dr. Franco. “Individuals that are at high risk with multiple medical conditions and or lung disease should also consider wearing a mask.”
“If you have symptoms, such as cough, fever, fatigue, and loss of smell/taste, or you have been in contact with someone ill, you should always wear a mask around people,” says Dr. Marinov.
Masks like N95 respirators, face shields, and surgical masks are all in short supply. And they are particularly important for healthcare providers who are in close proximity of patients with known COVID-19. Wearing masks will help health workers protect themselves and their families from the virus, as there’s less chance they’ll get infected and bring it home.
You should protect yourself and others! According to Dr. Marinov, you should “wear a mask if you are taking care of someone ill. It will reduce the risk of you getting infected as well.”
“If you are wearing a mask, it enables your health worker to wear a mask and protect themselves,” says Dr. Tulenko. “Many hospitals are not allowing health workers to wear masks with non-COVID patients and they are being fired over it.”
And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 40 Things You Should Never Touch Due to Coronavirus.