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Updated CDC Coronavirus Guidelines Stress Importance Of Wearing Face Masks

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As more and more states lift stay-at-home orders and allow businesses to reopen, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its coronavirus guidelines to help further reduce the spread of the virus. In the update, health officials have stressed the importance of wearing face masks when out in public and having having tissues and hand sanitizer on hand as well.

On Friday, the CDC released updated guidelines for people planning to attend large gatherings and going about daily activities outside of the household. "While there is no way to ensure zero risk of infection, it is important to understand potential risks and how to adopt different types of prevention measures to protect yourself and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19," the CDC said in its update on June 12.

As it has for months, the CDC recommends people still continue to practice social distancing, frequently wash their hands, and avoid touching their face. The CDC also recommends people wear face masks or cloth face coverings and also "strongly" encourages them when in "settings where individuals might raise their voice," like a concert, on a ride at an amusement park, or protest.

"It's important that you and the people around you wear a cloth face covering when in public, and particularly when it's difficult to stay 6 feet away from others consistently," according to the CDC. Masks should fit snugly around the nose and mouth, be comfortable to breathe in, and be washed in between uses.

When running errands and engaging in public activity, the CDC recommends always having the following items on hand:

  • Face mask
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Bottom line: If you're going to be around others, wear a face mask. The CDC recommends using cloth face coverings, not surgical masks or respirators.

A recent study published in PNAS found that wearing a face mask in public is the most effective means to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. "This protective measure significantly reduces the number of infections," the study found. "Other mitigation measures, such as social distancing implemented in the United States, are insufficient by themselves in protecting the public."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, has also stressed the importance of wearing a mask in an interview with CNBC earlier this month. "When you have crowds of people together and you have a lack of wearing a mask, that increases the risk of transmissibility," he said. "I have no doubt about that. When we see that not happening, there is a concern that that may actually propagate the further spread of infection." While Fauci told CNN that wearing a face mask isn't the only way you can protect yourself from the virus, he said that it is a valuable form of protection and wearing one "shows respect for another person."

In a press conference on Friday, CDC Director Robert Redfield said it's important for people to follow the updated guidelines. "I know that people are eager to return to normal activities and ways of life, [it's] important that we remember this," he said. "This situation is unprecedented. And that the pandemic has not ended."

Studies referenced:

Zhang, R., Li, Y., Zhang, A. L., Wang, Y., & Molina, M. J. (2020). Identifying airborne transmission as the dominant route for the spread of COVID-19. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Retrieved from https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/10/2009637117

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.