COVID-19 Coronavirus when to wear a mask

Face Coverings and COVID-19: What You Need to Know

Face Coverings and COVID-19: What You Need to Know.

senior male female couple wearing safety face masks

When worn properly, face coverings are one of the best ways to protect against the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about when to wear one, how they help, and how to know if yours fits properly.

What is a cloth face covering?

A cloth face covering is fabric that covers your nose and mouth. They help protect people around you. Cloth face coverings are NOT the same as surgical masks or N95 respirators. Currently, surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for health care workers and other first responders. 

Who should wear a face covering, and when should they wear them?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages 2 and older wear a cloth face-covering in public settings and when around people who don’t live in their households, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. 

People with COVID-19 can spread the virus even when they don’t have symptoms or know that they are sick, so you should wear one when in public or around people who don’t live with you even if you don’t feel sick. If you feel sick or think you may have COVID-19, do not visit public places.

How do face coverings help prevent the spread of COVID-19?

When we talk, sneeze, or cough, tiny droplets that contain the virus can be carried into the air. Wearing a cloth face-covering helps stop those droplets from going into the air or landing on surfaces. 

Am I required to wear a face-covering?

Some states now require people to wear face coverings in indoor public places. Click here to find the website for your state health department and to learn more about the requirements where you live. 

Is there anyone who should NOT wear a face covering?

The CDC says cloth face coverings should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or by anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. 

What should I look for when choosing a face covering, and how do I know if mine fits properly?

Make sure your cloth face covering:

  • Fits snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Completely covers the nose and mouth
  • Is secured with ties or ear loops
  • Includes multiple layers of fabric
  • Allows for breathing without restriction
  • Can be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Can I make my own face covering?

Simple cloth face coverings can be made at home, and there are many easy tutorials available online. The CDC’s web page "How to Make Cloth Face Coverings,” provides step-by-step instructions, including how to make a face-covering without any sewing. 

What is the proper way to take off a face covering when I’m done wearing it?

The CDC recommends the following steps:

  • Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops.
  • Handle only by the ear loops or ties.
  • Fold outside corners together.
  • Place covering in the washing machine. 
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth when removing.
  • Wash hands immediately after removing.

Pro tip: You can wash your face covering with your regular laundry using laundry detergent or by hand. 


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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention