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Masks: Dos & Don’ts

If you have not been vaccinated, you should still wear a well-fitted mask in public settings. Even if you are up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing a mask if you are in a community where COVID-19 cases are straining local hospitals.

Guidance that changes over time or differs by state or by county can be confusing. Wearing a mask can help maximize protection from circulating variants and can help prevent spreading the virus to others. COVID-19 is still circulating, causing illness, hospitalizations, and deaths.

You should wear a mask:

  • indoors in public depending on the COVID-19 level in your community
  • in schools (K-12) in communities with a high COVID-19 level
  • if you or someone close to you has a weakened immune system or is at high risk for severe illness
  • when you are sick, or caring for someone who is sick
  • if you wish to, based on personal preference and personal risk
  • where required by laws, rules, regulations, or local guidance

Layered prevention strategies — like staying up to date on vaccines and wearing masks — can help prevent severe illness and reduce strain on the healthcare system. It is also important to continue to wash hands frequently, cover coughs/sneezes, and stay home when sick.

If you wear a mask, be sure to follow these dos and don’ts:

Dos Don’ts
Do wear a mask that fits snuggly from nose to chin Don’t wear your mask below the nose, around your neck, or on your forehead
Do wear a face mask in public around others who do not live in your household Don’t stop social distancing (stay at least 6 feet apart)
Do stay at least 6 feet apart from others in public Don’t take your mask off in public if you are within 6 feet of others
Do wash your hands frequently Don’t touch your mask more than necessary 
Do wear a mask consistently and correctly to stop respiratory droplets from getting inside or escaping from your mask Don’t use a single-layer cloth mask or other loose-fitting mask


Reviewed March 2022

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Additional Resources

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NFID Medical Director William Schaffner, MD, offers practical communication advice based on 4 core principles outlined in the NFID consensus report, COVID-19 Communications: Promoting Prevention Measures and Vaccine Confidence …