Masking helps prevent the spread of many diseases, including COVID-19. Droplets containing viruses come out of our nose and mouth when we are infected, even if we don’t have symptoms. So putting a mask in front of your mouth and nose prevents many virus particles from going out, and from coming in.
How do we know masks help? Masks have been worn by surgeons since around the 1900s, after they figured out that wearing masks helped prevent infection in surgical wounds. Masks have been studied for many years and have been studied recently for their use in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Read more about studies on masking effectiveness.
Masks are safe for most everyone to wear, including children. Read more from the American Academy of Pediatrics: Mask Mythbusters: Common Questions about Kids & Face Masks
Do masks prevent the spread of illness 100%? No, some virus can get through masks, but they can reduce the spread significantly. Do some masks work better than others? Yes, but any mask is better than no mask. And a mask that fits you well and that you will wear when around others may be the best choice for you.
How you put on your mask, take it off, and take care of it can affect how well it works.
To wear your mask safely:
You should wash cloth masks after every use. Wash and them with regular laundry (try putting them in a bag or zippered pillow case). You can also hand wash and hang it to dry.
KN95s, N95s, and similar respirator masks:
Read more about these masks and how to get them: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/01/15/1073273768/n95-mask-respirator-cdc
These masks can be reused safely if you follow certain steps.
Allow them to air out in a paper bag or hanging. Rotate with other masks. Discard if torn, soiled, or very damp. For details, visit https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2022/01/13/kn95-n95-mask-reuse-omicron/
The Health Department expects to receive respirator-type masks to distribute soon. Once we receive them, we will share information on this page, on social media, and through news media and make them available across the county.