Wearing a face mask or face-covering in public is critical to preventing the spread of
COVID-19. Here are some of the most common myths about face masks and misinformation
circulating about the effectiveness of face coverings.
MYTH: I feel fine. I don’t need a mask.
FACT: The CDC reports that more than 40% of virus transmissions happen before people feel sick. A pre-symptomatic person can spread the virus for up to 48 hours before symptoms arise.
MYTH: I don’t need to wear a mask if I physically distance.
FACT: To be clear, it’s not either a mask or remain 6 feet apart from others. It’s both.
Wearing a mask and physically distancing at least 6 feet apart is for everyone’s protection,
MYTH: There’s no scientific evidence that masks work.
FACT: The Lancet (a well-respected medical journal in England, on the same level as the
New England Journal of Medicine) recently published a review article showing the benefits
of wearing a surgical mask.
While we don’t have a ton of data on homemade cotton face coverings yet, we can extrapolate from the surgical mask data showing that yes, indeed wearing a surgical mask does help. It does decrease transmission and decreases the risk of you getting an infection. There is clear scientific evidence that masking helps in the time of viral transmission.
MYTH: Wearing a mask causes you to inhale too much carbon dioxide, which can make
FACT: Wearing a cloth mask will not cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and headaches
(also known as hypercapnia or carbon dioxide toxicity). Carbon dioxide passes through the mask, it does not build up inside the mask. If you feel dizzy or get a headache, you may be dehydrated since wearing a mask doesn’t make it as easy to drink water. We recommend keeping yourself very hydrated.
MYTH: Homemade cloth face coverings aren’t effective and shouldn’t be worn in public.
FACT: Homemade cloth face coverings can prevent COVID-19 from spreading. To be effective, masks must cover the mouth and nose, wrap around the sides of the wearer’s, and secured under the chin. Studies show that many people with coronavirus lack symptoms and those who eventually develop symptoms can give the virus to others before those symptoms show. That’s why the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in all public settings where physical distancing is difficult, such as grocery stores, salons, etc.
MYTH: Masks only help if someone has symptoms.
FACT: You may have COVID-19 without knowing, since symptoms can take 2-14 days to develop, and wearing a mask will help you from spreading the virus. And if someone else is not masked and spreads infected droplets into the air, your mask serves as a barrier that limits the likelihood that you will become infected.
MYTH: Masks need to be replaced daily.
FACT: Homemade cloth face coverings can be reused if washed. You can launder in washing machines as long as they are able to retain their shape. To hand-wash, knead your face covering for several minutes in hot water using detergent or soap, then rinse well with fresh water and hang to air-dry.
MYTH: Masks should only be worn in large gatherings.
FACT: If you leave home, wear a mask. You should wear a mask in public places like grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, healthcare offices, public transportation, essential businesses, hairdressers, etc. You don’t need to wear a mask when you’re outside and
physically distancing from others (walking at a park, hiking, etc.)
MYTH: The virus is so small, there’s no way a cotton mask will screen it out.
FACT: The virus is suspended in droplets from the respiratory tract that become airborne when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or wipes bodily fluids on a surface. These droplets are larger than the virus, and the cloth mask is able to stop the majority of them from being inhaled by your nose and mouth.