Frequently Asked Questions about Mask usage

Face masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19 when worn consistently and correctly. Here are considerations to help you choose a mask and ensure you get the best protection from it.

  • Filtration. While all masks provide some level of protection, properly fitted high filtration masks such as N95s, KN95s, and KF94s offer the best protection. In absence of a high filtration mask, people can improve the protection of their masks by wearing two masks (a cloth mask over a disposable mask).
  • Fit. A poorly fitting or uncomfortable mask may be less effective if it is worn improperly or taken off frequently. If you are wearing a high filtration mask, ensure that it seals tightly to your face, which facial hair can interfere with. Masks should fit snugly over your nose and mouth with no gaps. Fit can be improved by combining a cloth mask or disposable mask with a fitter or brace, knotting and tucking ear loops of your mask, or wearing a mask that is secured behind the head instead of with ear loops.
  • Comfort. Some masks are more protective than others, and some are harder to tolerate than others. High filtration masks, such as N95s, KN95s and KF94s are recommended. People can get the best protection from COVID-19 by wearing the most protective mask you can that fits well and that you will wear consistently.

Added January 18, 2022 

As the science and the virus evolves, so do the policies and recommendations. While all masks provide some level of protection, the CDC now recommends using the most protective mask you are able to because the Omicron variant is even more infectious than earlier variants.

The CDC also updated recommendations on N95s based on supply. When there was limited nationwide supply, CDC recommended prioritizing N95 respirators for healthcare workers, but now N95s and KN95s are widely available.

Added January 18, 2022 

Messaging Resources about Mask usage

Communications Tool: Building Bridges

Toolkit: Halloween 2021 Safety Tips

“Mask Up” PSA

Misinformation Alerts about Mask usage

False claims about mask effectiveness continue to circulate

A White House email that unintentionally contained outdated mask guidelines has sparked conversations about the effectiveness of wearing masks to protect against COVID-19. The email about an upcoming event at the White House stated that unvaccinated individuals are required to wear masks and socially distance at the event. Right-wing commentators referred to mask requirements as

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Viral article accuses the government of lying about mask effectiveness

A right-wing newspaper published an article claiming that the U.S. government lied about the effectiveness of masks. This claim is partially based on a recent meta-analysis of mask studies, which found that masks “probably make little or no difference” with respect to COVID-19. Recommendation: Medium Risk

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Posts blame masks, COVID-19 mitigations for respiratory disease “tripledemic”

Several popular social media accounts are promoting the idea that mask mandates and other COVID-19 protections are responsible for the “tripledemic,” the current wave of flu, COVID-19, and RSV infections that are overwhelming U.S. hospitals. One post claims that wearing masks weakened children’s immune systems by preventing exposure to germs, making them more susceptible to

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