Frequently asked questions
Can a cloth mask protect me from getting COVID-19?
A cloth mask does cut down your chances of getting the virus. It is much better at preventing you from spreading it.
So — If other people wear a mask, it protects you. If you wear a mask it protects others.
If you both wear masks, everyone is protected.
Are face masks enough on their own to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
They help A LOT. They work best when combined with a lot of hand-washing, staying at least 6-feet apart, and avoiding crowded indoor spaces.
At first we heard we shouldn’t wear masks. What changed?
Early on in the pandemic, scientists didn’t know how contagious people were before they had symptoms, and they were really worried about the mask shortage in hospitals.
Now we know that the virus is really contagious — even when people don’t have symptoms. We also know that masks help a lot.
The experts universally agree that wearing masks is important.
Will a cloth mask prevent me from spreading the virus to others?
Yes. It’s not perfect, but a cloth mask over your nose and mouth with no gaps does a pretty good job of preventing virus spread. Don’t forget — you can have COVID-19 without having any symptoms.
How do cloth masks work?
The virus spreads when people breathe in tiny water droplets or vapor from infected people. When you talk, shout, sing, cough, sneeze or breath you give off vapor and some droplets. If you have the virus, it goes with them.
A cloth mask will catch most of that vapor so that it can’t get to other people.
What’s the difference between a surgical mask, an N95 and a cloth mask?
N95 masks filter out 95% of particles. They use both fibers and a static charge. They catch virus particles before people breath them in. The problem is, we still have shortages of these masks, and we need to save them for people who are at the most risk, and where there are the highest amounts of virus: hospitals, clinics and testing centers.
Surgical masks are in between. They are good at preventing droplets and vapor from getting in or out. There is still a shortage of these masks for healthcare workers, however, so the general public should stick to cloth masks.
Unless you are high risk, use a cloth mask.