Is a Mask Enough to Keep Your Family Protected From Coronavirus?

a mother places a face mask on her young child

As restrictions are loosened in many states across the country, you might wonder how to continue keeping your family safe. Is wearing a mask enough to protect your family from COVID-19? Or is it simply a false sense of protection?

Will a Mask Protect Your Child From COVID-19?

Although cloth masks are encouraged as a method to help protect you from COVID-19, it can also lull people into a false sense of security. They can help reduce the likelihood that the wearer could transmit the virus to other people, but they will not protect you fully.

Here are a few considerations you should keep in mind:

If a person has COVID-19 symptoms, they should stay at home. Cloth masks do not provide adequate protection for others if the person wearing it is positive for the virus.

  • While wearing a mask, you should avoid touching your nose, eyes, or mouth.
  • The mask needs to be washed after each use, along with washing your hands after removing the mask and before putting it on.
  • If you make your own mask or purchase one elsewhere, CDC guidance should be followed.
  • Wearing a mask doesn’t replace the need to practice social distancing, you can still catch the virus through a cloth mask.
  • If your child or another family member is sick, stay at home.

Do Face Masks Actually Work? Why Do We Wear Them?

A significant portion of people who have the virus will show no symptoms, according to the CDC. In other words, they are considered to be ‘asymptomatic.’ Even those who might develop symptoms later can still spread the virus to others before that happens.

Dr. Aaron Hamilton, MD, explains, “Wearing a cloth face mask is recommended as an extra layer of protection. That means that you should still be following any shelter-in-place orders in your community. But, when you’re venturing out to the grocery store, pharmacy or hospital, it’s wise to wear one.”

“The coronavirus can spread among people who are less than six feet apart,” explained Hamilton. “Whether that’s by talking to one another, coughing or sneezing. This holds true even if none of those people notice symptoms commonly reported with COVID-19, like fever, shortness of breath, or coughing.”

Dr. Hamilton also said that wearing a cloth mask won’t prevent you from breathing in respiratory droplets that carry COVID-19. However, it can help protect others from you if you happen to be infected, because it can lessen how far the virus might travel.

Cloth masks also help to reinforce good cough etiquette and encourages social distancing.

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