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CDC Recommends the Public Wear Cloth Face Masks

Tuesday, April 7, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Nicole Morris
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At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the CDC recommended face and respiratory protection measures, along with other items of personal protective equipment (PPE), primarily for healthcare professionals and community health responders who deal directly with large numbers of people with COVID-19. The rationale for this recommendation is when providing patient care these healthcare professionals can be exposed to large concentrations of infectious respiratory droplets over a long time.

The general public was initially thought to have a reduced risk of exposure to the virus in daily activities as long as they practiced the recommended prevention measures.1  However, recently published research has shown that: 1) COVID-19 is more contagious compared to seasonal influenza; and 2) persons who are infected but are not yet showing symptoms can be very effective spreaders of the virus to people around them.2  Effective April 3, 2020, the CDC updated their recommendation about use of face masks for the general public, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.3

Key elements of this revised recommendation include:

  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case YOU are infected, because people who do not yet feel sick may have been exposed to the virus, became infected, and are capable of spreading COVID-19.
  • Although the recommendation is voluntary, everyone is encouraged to wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public.
  • Continue to practice social distancing; the cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing and other prevention measures.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children who are under the age of 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the face cover without assistance.
  • Medical masks and respirators intended for use by healthcare professionals and first responders should be reserved for their use.

The CDC is aware that supplies of masks for the general public are extremely limited at this point in the COVID-19 outbreak, but using a cloth face cover is a prevention measure that can provide more protection as opposed to wearing nothing on the face. The CDC has provided some instructions on making suitable cloth face covers, along with some tips on how to wear cloth face covers, how to remove the cover from the face.4  Wearing cloth face covers while out in public can help to reduce the number of exposures from asymptomatic persons, and, in turn, help to flatten the curve to reduce the numbers of new COVID-19 cases.


1 CDC. How to protect yourself & others. Accessed at:

2 CDC. How COVID-19 spreads. Accessed at:

3 CDC. Recommendation regarding the use of cloth face coverings, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Accessed at:

4 CDC. Use of cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Accessed at: