Masks 101: What you need to know

The best things you can do to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are practicing social distancing, staying home and washing your hands frequently and properly. “Cancer patients should also wear a face mask or fabric mask anywhere they go,” says our infectious diseases and infection control expert, Roy Chemaly, M.D. “For everyone else, it’s a good idea to wear a cloth face mask when going out in public as an added precaution.” That’s because social distancing can be harder to maintain in these spaces. “Wearing a mask can also provide a visual cue, reminding others to keep their distance,” says Chemaly. “This can be especially important for cancer patients, who are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19.” Wearing a fabric mask won’t necessarily keep you from breathing in droplets that cause COVID-19 and other viruses. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wearing a mask can help slow the spread of the coronavirus, especially from those who may have COVID-19 and not realize it. “Wearing a fabric mask can also keep you from touching your face and mouth, which can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 germs,” says Chemaly. Here’s what to know about wearing a face mask. Make sure your fabric mask fits properly There are a lot of fabric face masks available for purchase, and many people are making their own. “There’s no guarantee these fabric masks work to prevent COVID-19 exposure and infection,” Chemaly says. But to increase the chances that your fabric mask can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends you wear one that: includes multiple layers of fabric...