This Is the Face Mask the CDC Doesn't Want You to Wear

Leave N95 masks and other professional-grade face coverings for our medical workers.

Through months of shifting directives regarding the best protection against transmitting the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has held its position on face masks. Before COVID-19, most people—outside those working in a few certain professions—were unfamiliar with proper mask protocol, including how to choose the right type of mask to wear. To help you avoid a common mistake when making your selection, the CDC advises against using surgical grade masks or N95 respirators.

Given that there's a shortage of professional-grade masks and other necessary personal protective equipment needed by medical workers in order to do their jobs safely, the CDC is asking those who don't need them for professional reasons to refrain from purchasing these types of masks.

"Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders," the CDC says on its website.

Homemade cloth face masks

In addition to being in short supply for medical experts, many people who are wearing these types of professional-grade masks are doing so incorrectly—thus, not only contributing to the shortage, but doing so in a way that directly puts themselves and others at risk.

The agency does, however, continue to recommend all individuals wear some kind of protective face mask. A simple cloth face covering can, according to the CDC, "slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others."

Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost, the CDC says.

If you already have a box of professional-grade masks, consider donating any that are unused to a local hospital and swap them for a cloth mask. Avoiding using these types of masks is a small gesture that will help support the people working on the front lines. And for more mask-wearing tips, check out The Real Reason You Shouldn't Reuse Your Disposable Face Mask.

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