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The Do's and Don'ts of Face Coverings

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Laura Zabriskie

April 16, 2020
*This is a rapidly evolving situation and recommendations may change as more information becomes available. This article was written on April 15, 2020. For the most up-to-date information, visit the CDC website at*

Researchers have recently learned that it is likely that asymptomatic (never having symptoms) and pre-symptomatic (developing symptoms later) carriers can spread the coronavirus (COVID-19) to others. To prevent this, the CDC is recommending that people wear cloth face coverings in public. These coverings are not the same as medical-grade masks – which need to be reserved for healthcare professionals who are treating patients. Click here to learn the difference between the two.

It is incredibly important to do everything we can to slow the spread of this virus. Therefore, wearing a face covering should not replace other precautions such as hand washing and social distancing. And, like a seatbelt, a face covering won’t protect you if it’s used incorrectly. Improper use of a face covering could put you at a greater risk of becoming infected and spreading the disease to others. Here are some of the do’s and don’ts of wearing face coverings:

DO –
  • Use a homemade cloth face covering. Click here (sew) and here (no sew) for instructions on how to make a face covering.
  • Put on the face covering before entering a new environment, making sure it fits snugly and is covering your mouth and nose.
  • Complete your activity without touching the face covering or any part of your face.
  • Take the face covering off from the back when you’re done the activity – touching the front could contaminate your hands.
  • Drop it straight into your washing machine after coming home.
  • Wash your hands after handling the face covering.

  • Use a medical-grade mask such as an N95.
  • Touch or move the face covering while wearing it.
  • Wear the face covering in any position other than over your mouth and nose.
  • Talk on your cell phone while wearing the face covering.
  • Take the face covering off from the front.
  • Put the face covering down on other surfaces after taking it off.
  • Put a face covering on a child under the age of 2 or someone with breathing problems.
These guidelines must be followed closely to keep you and your family safe. Face coverings can easily become contaminated with COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases such as the flu, making it critical to protect your hands and face from infected droplets. If these germs get on the inside of your covering, they become trapped next to your face resulting in an increased risk of inhalation and infection. It is also possible for the virus to transfer to your hands if you touch a contaminated part of your face covering. Once the virus is on your hands, it can be transferred to your face and other objects. This is one of the reasons why hand hygiene is so important whether you are wearing a face covering or not.

If you have N95 or procedure masks (also called surgical or ear-loop masks), please donate them to the healthcare workers who are sacrificing so much to keep us safe. GBMC is accepting supplies and monetary donations to provide much needed services and support to our employees. To learn how you can contribute, go to or call 443-849-6219.

*Click here for more information about the coronavirus (COVID-19)*
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