Here are answers to a few common questions about wearing face masks today:
Do cloth face masks work? When the COVID-19 pandemic began, experts advised the public to wear cloth masks. This was so that healthcare workers could wear medical masks when supply was low. Today, many people still wear cloth masks. Now that more surgical masks are available, many argue that the public should start wearing surgical masks instead of cloth masks. A spokesperson from the World Health Organization (WHO) recently said that if you do not have a surgical mask, then wear a reusable three-layer fabric mask.
Are two masks better than one? We know that if you have a mask with one layer, and you put another layer on top of it, it will be more effective. New research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) supports this idea, but the WHO does not currently recommend double-masking.
Should the public wear face masks outdoors? With the rise of new variants of the virus, such as the UK variant B.1.1.7., many people wonder if we should wear masks outside. The general advice is to wear a face mask when you might come into contact with others (less than 6 feet apart), even if this is outdoors and even if the people do not have symptoms. While COVID-19 is not as likely to spread outdoors where people are at least 6 feet apart, it is a good idea to use common sense in all situations.
Finally, do not use a mask if it is wet. Wet masks do not protect from COVID-19. For example, when it rains or if it is cold outside and your breath wets the mask, then the mask loses its effectiveness.