Face Coverings, Cloth Masks and You

What we know so far…October 2020

What is a face covering?

Face coverings are things that you wear to cover your mouth and nose to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (and other viruses). Scientists think that the best face coverings are cloth masks that are three-layers and made of a tightly woven material like cotton or linen. Face shields, bandanas, and neck gaiters/balaclavas aren’t as effective, so if you can, use a cloth mask. Don’t use a surgical mask (save those for the people who need them to do their jobs).

Why should I wear one?

To protect you and the people around you! Most stores require them before you can go inside, you need to wear one if you take public transportation, and if you’re a student you will probably need to wear one at school.

If you live in a group care setting, you could be at higher risk for getting COVID-19 so wearing a mask might be recommended for you and staff to wear inside to help keep you safe.

Illustration of students in masks

Who should not wear one?

  • children under 2
  • anyone who has trouble breathing
  • anyone that can’t remove the masks on their own

If that’s you, talk to a caregiver to find out what you should do. If they aren’t sure, they will ask for help from a doctor or Public Health.

How do I put it on and take it off?

Always wash your hands before you put it on and after you take it off. This is really important!

Once you have it on, try not to touch it and don’t take it off. It’s more effective that way.

If you need to remove your mask, for example to eat or drink, don’t forget to wash your hands first and try your best not to touch the front of your mask or your eyes, mouth or nose, and remove it by the ear pieces. Place the mask on a clean surface or in a container with the part that was on your mouth and nose facing up.

You will need a clean mask each time you go out so you might need more than one.

Illustration of masks

What else do I need to know?

Illustration of mask in washing machine

It’s important for the mask to fit properly to be effective. It should cover your mouth, nose, and chin and should fit snugly, but not so snugly that you can’t breathe!

Your masks can be washed with hot water and dried with the rest of your laundry and should be cleaned regularly, ideally after each time you use them. Don’t share your face covering with anyone else.

Wearing a mask does not give you superpowers!

It is still really important to wash your hands often, not touch your face, stay home when you're sick, and physically distance from people outside your bubble as much as possible.