There seems to be some confusion about whether face masks are helpful in keeping us healthy or preventing the spread of the coronavirus. At the beginning of the pandemic here in the United States the original guidance given was that generally, cloth face masks weren’t all that helpful or necessary for the average person. Since then the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed their guidance on face masks:

“Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.”

Why is the CDC recommending everyone (with some exceptions noted below) wear a mask in public? The face mask protects others in case you are infected with the coronavirus. And it’s suggested everyone wear one because you can be infected with COVID-19 and be contagious and not know it. The mask you’re wearing helps you protect others if you’re infected, and you’re in turn protected by others wearing masks.

There are some people who shouldn’t wear masks:

  • Children under two years of age.
  • Anyone who has breathing problems.
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or unable to remove a mask without assistance.

I’m actually surprised at the number of people who don’t believe face masks can help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Or worse, believe that wearing a face mask is dangerous. Snopes, by the way, says that people wearing cloth masks face little to no danger of health problems from wearing a mask.

Is wearing a mask inconvenient? Sure. I absolutely hate it and can’t wait to get away from others so I can take it off. However, if it helps keep the fast food worker, the mini mart employee, my Mom, and my wife and my co-worker who each have an autoimmune disease safer. I do it. It’s the least I can do when we’re dealing with a virus we don’t know a lot about that doesn’t have a vaccine.