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Masks Are Flying Off the Shelves, But Will They Help?

Masks Are Flying Off the Shelves, But Will They Help?

People across the country are hoarding surgical masks, leaving shelves empty and giving a false sense of security to many people. But will they help? The short answer is no.

The CDC does NOT recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. The U.S. Surgeon General – along with our BRG physicians – have been sending the same message, urging people to stop buying them.

But, if a person does show symptoms of COVID-19 – fever, cough or difficulty breathing -- they should wear a mask to help prevent the spread of the virus.

For health care providers, it’s a different story. The use of masks is crucial for their own protection when caring for patients in close settings, and they are trained in the proper type and use of masks.

For suspected cases of coronavirus, the CDC is recommending that health care providers wear an N95 mask, which is a filtering mask. This is different from a surgical mask you may see the average person wearing. The N95 filters out much smaller particles and provides a barrier to bacteria and viruses coming in and coming out.

Right now, the best course of prevention is to practice good hand hygiene and keep your distance from people who are sick.

For more information and updates from the CDC on COVID-19, visit our information page by clicking here.