Do I need to wear a face mask in public? Why?

This recommendation was updated to respond to new research on transmission, or the spread of COVID-19. Recent studies suggest that asymptomatic individuals, or people who do not show COVID-19 symptoms but have the disease, can transmit the virus to others. This means people who feel fine can spread the coronavirus to others in close proximity by speaking, coughing and sneezing.

Face coverings should be worn in public settings, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. This is especially important in communities with significant transmission.

United States Surgeon General Jerome Adams, however, warned that wearing face coverings does not mean people should stop practicing physical distancing.

“We don’t want people to think, ‘Hey, I’m going to wear a face covering, so it’s appropriate for me to go around other people.’ The most important thing to do is for people to stay at home,” Dr. Adams said on “Good Morning America.”

Anyone who must enter a public space, to shop for food, for example, should remain at least 6 feet apart from others.

What kind of face covering should I wear? Should I buy an N95 mask?

The general public should wear cloth face coverings, not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Health care workers on the front line of fighting this pandemic desperately need personal protective equipment, which is in short supply now.

Instead, use items found around the house, like a scarf, T-shirt, bandana or hand towel.

An interactive web-based dashboard to track COVID-19 in real time.

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