The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of things, especially how we interact with others. As businesses and public places begin to open again, it’s not hard to see that face masks and coverings have become part of our new normal. What may not be as easy to understand is why masks help prevent the spread of the virus or when people – men and women, young and old, healthy and sick – should wear one.
WHY wear a face covering?
COVID-19 can spread when we breathe, talk, cough or sneeze. Wearing a face covering reduces respiratory droplets from spreading person-to-person. Masks are especially helpful because people can carry the virus and not show any symptoms (asymptomatic).
Parents and caregivers are encouraged to talk with their family, of all ages, about why wearing face coverings is important. By modeling mask-wearing behavior and speaking positively about the impact masks have on keeping others safe, we can help children and vulnerable populations feel at ease when seeing people in masks and help them feel comfortable wearing their own masks.
Children under the age of 2 and those with sensory issues should not wear face coverings. Facemasks worn by others, and safe social distancing, are good ways to protect these groups from the virus.
WHEN to use a face covering?
You don’t need to wear a face covering at home (assuming no one has been exposed to anyone with COVID-19) or when you are outside, as long as you stay 6 feet away from others. Taking a walk without a face covering is okay as long as you remain 6 feet away from others and don’t touch benches, water fountains or playground equipment.
Wearing a mask should be used in combination with other everyday steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including hand-washing and safe social distancing. Learn more about how you can help reduce the spread of the virus by visiting the Akron Children’s Hospital website.