CDC provides information on types of face masks to prevent COVID-19

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There are many types of masks you can use to protect yourself and others from getting and spreading COVID-19. When choosing a mask, choose one that fits snugly. Learn more about how to choose a mask that fits well and offers the best protection.

Cloth Masks
Cloth Masks can be made from a variety of fabrics, and many types of cloth masks are available.

Look for:
• Multiple layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric,
• Nose wire,
• Mask should block light when held up to bright light source.

Do NOT wear
• Masks with exhalation valves or vents,
• Single layer or masks made of thin fabric that don’t block light.


DO NOT choose masks that have exhalation valves or vents which allow virus particles to escape.

When to wear
• Anytime you are indoors or outdoors with people who don’t live with you.

Two Ways to have better fit and extra protection
• Wear two masks (disposable mask underneath AND cloth mask on top)
• Combine a cloth mask with a fitter or brace.

Disposable masks|
Disposable face masks are widely available.

Look for:
• A description indicating multiple layers of non-woven material, and,
• Nose wire.

Do NOT wear

• Masks with gaps around the sides of the face or nose,
• If wet or dirty.

When to wear
• Anytime you are indoors or outdoors with people you don’t live with.

Ways to have better fit and extra protection
• Wear two masks (disposable mask underneath and cloth mask on top).
• A cloth mask can be combined with a fitter or brace.
• Knot and tuck ear loops of a 3-ply mask where they join the edge of the mask.
• Fold and tuck the unneeded material under the edges.

Masks that meet a standard
Some masks are designed and tested to ensure they perform at a consistent level to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These masks are labeled to tell you what standard they meet.

Look for masks that are labeled as
• Meets ASTM F3502,
• Meets workplace performance,
• Meets workplace performance plus,
• KN95.

Do NOT wear
• If you have certain types of facial hair,
• Counterfeit (fake) KN95 masks, BE AWARE: About 60% KN95 masks in the United States are counterfeit (fake) and DO NOT meet NIOSH requirements.
• If hard to breathe,
• If wet or dirty,
• With other masks,
• As a replacement for respiratory protection.

When to wear
• Anytime a mask is appropriate,
• At work when a respirator or surgical mask is not required, but a mask is appropriate.

How to wear
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to wear, store, and clean or dispose of the mask properly.


For a better fit and additional protection
Sometimes, you may need more protection to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19.

• Riding on planes, buses, trains, or other forms of public transportation, especially when you can’t keep at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live with you
• Taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19
• Working at a job where you interact with large numbers of the public. Examples of jobs might include bus drivers and grocery store workers
• If you are at increased risk for severe illness, for example, older adults or people with certain underlying medical conditions

For more information on science behind improving how your mask protects you, see Improve the Fit and Filtration of Your Mask to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19 at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/mask-fit-and-filtration.html.

Prioritize N95 respirators for healthcare workers
CDC recommends that N95 respirators should be prioritized for protection against COVID-19 in healthcare settings. Essential workers and workers who routinely wore respirators before the pandemic should continue wearing N95 respirators. As N95s become available they can be worn in non-healthcare settings.

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