Can wearing a face mask prevent coronavirus from spreading?
Yes. Although being fully vaccinated greatly reduces your chance of catching or spreading the coronavirus, it doesn’t eliminate it entirely. If you are infected with the coronavirus and do not know it, a mask is very good at keeping your respiratory droplets and particles from infecting others. If you haven’t yet received your covid-19 vaccine, wearing a mask can also help prevent germs that come from another person’s respiratory droplets from getting into your nose and mouth.
Since the coronavirus can spread through droplets and particles released into the air by speaking, singing, coughing or sneezing, masks are still a good idea in crowded indoor public places that contain a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
Wearing a mask is still recommended in health care settings and other places where people around you may have risk factors for severe consequences of COVID-19. These include people over age 65 and those living with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, chronic lung disease, immunity problems or cancer.
Do I need to wear a face mask if I currently have COVID-19?
Yes. If you are actively infected with the coronavirus and cannot stay completely away from others in your home, droplets from your nose or mouth could infect another person who has not been vaccinated yet or who has a weakened immune system. Stay away from others as much as possible and wear your mask around others until your doctor says it’s safe to discontinue wearing it.
COVID-19: When should masks be worn?
Infectious disease expert Lisa Maragakis explains the importance of wearing a face mask to help prevent COVID-19.
Why do I still have to wear a mask in health care facilities?
The CDC guidance is that people continue to wear face masks in hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices and other health care locations. Wearing a mask protects people around you who may have not had their COVID-19 vaccines or who might have a health condition that makes them vulnerable to severe coronavirus infection.
Why do mask regulations keep changing?
At first, researchers and scientists did not know how necessary mask wearing would be among the general public. Later, we learned that wearing masks was an effective way to help prevent spread of this coronavirus. Also, masks were initially in short supply, and it made sense to ensure that those at the highest risk of infection, such as medical caregivers and first responders, had an adequate supply of professional masks so they could protect themselves as they cared for patients.
With more people getting COVID-19 vaccinations, experts are likely to revise mask guidelines as more people in the community are protected.
When a completely new virus like SARS-CoV-2 shows up in humans, recommendations change frequently as we learn more about how the virus behaves.
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