Mask Up and Make a Difference: Mask myths

There is so much information circulating about COVID-19 and about how to prevent it. Unfortunately, not all of this information is accurate or helpful in preventing the spread of the virus. In this article, we’ve collected a few myths that our team has encountered about wearing masks. In doing so, we hope to clear up any ambiguity that may surround this specific safety guideline.

What are some myths about wearing masks?What You Should Know:

MYTH: Wearing a face mask or covering will give you CO2 poisoning or decrease oxygen levels in the body.
Wearing a face mask or covering does not cause CO2 poisoning. Please consider that medical personnel can and do wear face masks for long hours without illness. However, there are people who need to be concerned about their breathing while wearing a mask: (1) those who have some form of respiratory illness (such as COPD, pneumonia, etc.) and (2) those who are wearing a respirator (N-95 or similar) mask which fits tightly because they may not be able to exhale fully.
MYTH: Wearing a face mask or covering will give you a lung infection.Face coverings do not cause lung infections as long as they are clean. It’s important to wash and dry your face covering thoroughly before wearing. Having a clean and dry mask, hands, and face can eliminate risk of skin irritation, acne, and any potential risk from breathing through a wet, dirty mask.
MYTH: I don’t feel sick, so I shouldn’t have to wear a face covering.Wearing a mask isn’t for your protection; it protects those around you. You may not think that you’re sick, but recent studies have found that a large number of people with COVID-19 are either pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic. Since it is impossible to know if you have been exposed to an asymptomatic or presymptomatic carrier of the virus, or to know if you yourself are asymptomatic or presymptomatic, it is critical that you protect others by wearing your mask.
MYTH: All masks are created equal. As long as I’m covering my mouth, I’m following the guideline.Not all face coverings are equally effective to prevent transmission of COVID-19, but any face covering is more effective than none at all at protecting the people around you. Also, remember that some masks are reserved for specific groups, such as healthcare providers or tradespeople. Masks should cover both your nose and your mouth as respiratory droplets carrying the virus could potentially spread from either place.

MYTH: If I’m wearing a face covering, I can return to my normal routine.
Even with a mask, it is extremely important to continue avoiding crowds, maintaining a 6-foot distance from others, and practicing excellent hand washing. These precautions mean that, even as businesses and services reopen, it will not be possible to return to the old normal.
MYTH: Wearing a face covering is a substitute for the other guidelines; as long as I’m wearing a face covering, I don’t have to physically distance from others, worry about disinfecting, or worry about washing my hands often.Even with a mask, it is extremely important to continue avoiding crowds, maintaining a 6-foot distance from others, and practicing excellent hand washing. Face masks are a powerful tool, but still only one tool in the toolkit for stopping the spread of COVID-19.
MYTH: There’s no proof that masks even work.There is rapidly increasing evidence that wearing a mask does make a difference. Two case studies published very recently addressed the effectiveness of mask-wearing in both a large hospital system in Boston as well as a community-based hair salon. Despite being two very different scenarios, it was possible to see in both that mask-wearing dramatically reduced the potential spread of COVID-19.

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