Should You Wear A Face Mask To Protect Against Coronavirus?
New coronavirus cases are continuing to pop up worldwide. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked Americans to be prepared for the illness, known as COVID-19, to spread in the United States, saying it's not a question of if, but when.
Theis booming amid concerns about the outbreak. The nation's largest surgical mask manufacturer is with skyrocketing demand for its products. And The Associated Press reports that some countries are placing price ceilings on face masks to fight price gouging.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it "does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19."
"Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others," the CDC's website says. "The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility)."
Dr. Frank Esper, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, explained the circumstances when some really sick people should wear a mask.
"If they are coughing, if they are feeling like they have symptoms, we do ask them to put on mask when they are coming to our waiting room or ER or into a public space," he said. "It helps prevent the spread of infection."
Esper and other experts say washing your hands frequently is the best way to prevent the spread of infectious illnesses like coronavirus or, more commonly, the flu. The CDC advises washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.