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All About Face Masks and Coverings

Wearing a face mask, along with practicing social distancing and good hand washing, is one of the best ways you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. The Big Red Restart Plan requires face coverings to be worn in all public areas and outside when social distancing cannot be maintained. An in-person educational experience this fall can only happen if everyone works together and takes appropriate measures to keep our Hilltopper community safe and healthy on the Hill.


Why is it important to wear a mask?

  • Masks are a simple and easy barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling in the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask talks, raises their voice, coughs or sneezes.
  • Wearing a mask will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in stores and restaurants).
  • Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.
  • The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when masks are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.




Wear a Mask to Protect Others

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect others in case you’re infected with COVID-19 but don’t have symptoms.
  •  Wear a mask in public settings when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when it may be difficult for you to stay six feet apart.
  • Wear a mask correctly for maximum protection.
  • Don’t put the mask around your neck or up on your forehead.
  • Don’t touch the mask, and, if you do, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to disinfect.


Why wearing your mask over your nose AND mouth is important:

The primary purpose of wearing a mask is to prevent YOUR respiratory droplets from traveling to other people. These droplets are coming from your nose and your mouth.  For a mask to be the most effective, it should be covering both areas of the face so these droplets do not travel to other people. When we do not cover one or the other, it defeats the purpose and becomes an ineffective way of protecting yourself and others.



Different Types of Masks:

  • Cloth Masks:  Bandanas, scarves, and cloths that cover the nose and mouth.
  • Surgical Face Masks: A mask intended to be worn by healthcare professionals during surgery to catch the bacteria shed in liquid droplets and aerosols from the wearer’s mouth and nose.
  • N95 Respirators:  A particulate-filtering face piece respirator that meets the N95 standard of the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health air filtration rating because it filters at least 95% of airborne particles.


The general public is encouraged to use a homemade face mask at this time. Surgical masks and N95 respirators are in critical demand, and the CDC asks that citizens reserve them for use by healthcare workers and other medical first responders.

Note that all homemade cloth face coverings should:

  • Fit securely but not uncomfortably against the face.
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops to hold in place.
  • Include multiple layers of fabric.
  • Allow for unrestricted breathing.
  • Be launderable without damaging the material or changing the shape

How to make your own mask at home:

Click HERE




A face shield is primarily used for eye protection for the person wearing it. At this time, it is not known what level of protection a face shield provides to people nearby from the spray of respiratory droplets from the wearer. There is currently not enough evidence to support the effectiveness of face shields for source control.Therefore, CDC does not currently recommend use of face shields as a substitute for masks.




MYTH: Cloth masks don't protect you.

FACT: Cloth face masks are effective. They create a barrier between your mouth and nose and those around you. This makes it more difficult for the droplets that spread coronavirus through coughs, sneezes and talking to reach other people.


MYTH: Masks can cause carbon dioxide (CO2) build-up.

FACT:  Some people have suggested that carbon dioxide from exhaling gets trapped under the cloth and can make you sick. This isn't true. Properly fitted masks offer adequate airflow while still covering your nose and mouth. This makes the accumulation of carbon dioxide impossible.

However, people with breathing problems, children under age 2, and those who can't remove the mask without assistance should not wear one.


MYTH:You only need to wear a mask if you feel sick.

FACT: According to the CDC, studies suggest that many people who have coronavirus are asymptomatic, meaning they show no symptoms. You may have the disease and unknowingly spread it to others, including those with underlying conditions that are more vulnerable to severe illness. Asymptomatic carriers can increase the disease's spread if they aren't taking proper precautions, including wearing a mask, washing their hands frequently and social distancing.


MYTH: You don't need to wear a mask outside.

FACT: At this time, being outside is generally considered safer than being inside. When taking a stroll or participating in other outdoor activities by yourself or with people you live with, a mask isn't required.  However, when you find it difficult to maintain at least six feet of distance from people you don't live with – such as passing someone on a sidewalk or eating out at a restaurant – it's important to have your mask on. You should always have your mask on hand when you leave your home.


MYTH: The tighter my mask is, the better it will prevent COVID-19 spread.

FACT: A mask should fit snugly but still allow for ease of breathing and space to catch droplets. If a mask is too tight, there is a risk that respiratory droplets will be forced through the openings at the side of the mask.


MYTH: Spraying alcohol and chlorine all over your body will kill the virus.

FACT: Spraying alcohol and chlorine all over your body will not kill the virus that has already entered the body. Spraying harsh chemicals on your body can damage your skin. But harsh chemicals can be used on hard surfaces in the home etc.


Click here to learn more about face masks and COVID-19. 










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 Last Modified 8/14/20