Face Masks: They Are For People That Are Sick

As the virus that causes COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to urge people to wash their hands, practice good respiratory hygiene, clean environmental surfaces, and stay home if you are ill.

As the CDC continues to urge people to prepare for community outbreaks, they are also reminding the public that healthy people generally do not need to wear masks. “Seriously people—STOP BUYING MASKS!” the surgeon general, Jerome M. Adams, said in a tweet on Saturday morning. “They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

“While it seems reasonable to think that wearing a mask will filter out some viruses that are circulating in our community,” say Dr. Tinguely, Chief Medical Officer for Falls Community Health and the City of Sioux Falls Health Department, “surgical masks won’t stop the wearer from inhaling small airborne particles, which can cause infection. To be effective, masks need to be properly fit and people who don’t know how to wear them properly tend to touch their faces a lot which can increase the spread of viruses.”

The CDC recommends surgical masks only for people who already show symptoms of coronavirus and must go outside, since wearing a mask can help prevent spreading the virus by protecting others nearby when you cough or sneeze. The agency also recommends these masks for caregivers of people infected with the virus.

Currently, nonpharmaceutical interventions are the most important response strategy against COVID-19. People are reminded to cover their cough, wash their hands for 20 seconds using soap and water, keep their hands away from their face, and stay home if they are feeling ill.

For more information on proper respiratory hygiene, visit siouxfalls.org/covid19.

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