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Wear a mask to slow the spread of COVID-19

Graphic of patients wearing masks in a waiting room.
Blog

/ by Kim Blanton

Written by Kim Blanton, UK HealthCare enterprise director for Infection Prevention & Control.

Social distancing and frequent handwashing remain crucial ways to slow the spread of COVID-19, but as experts continue to learn about the novel coronavirus, it is clear that wearing a mask is another necessary way to prevent the spread of the virus.

The best way to prevent COVID-19 is to prevent the spread of droplets, so in addition to social distancing and proper hand hygiene, face coverings are key.

Why wear a mask?

Studies have found that wearing a mask significantly reduces the risk of transmission of COVID-19. There are two main reasons to wear a mask: masks do offer some protection for the mask wearer, but the main reason to wear a mask is that they protect others from catching an infection or virus from the person wearing the mask.

What kind of mask? 

Surgical and N95 masks are in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare providers, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend the use of a simple cloth face covering to slow the spread of the virus.  

How to wear a mask:

  • Make sure your mouth and nose are covered by your mask.
  • Don’t touch your mask while wearing it, but if you do, wash or sanitize your hands.
  • Make sure your mask is tied behind your head or has ear loops – and make sure it’s snug.
  • Wash your hands immediately after removing your mask.
  • Regularly wash your cloth mask with soap and water in the washing machine – it’s fine to wash with other clothes.

What about children?

Children under 2 years old should not wear masks. Our Child Life Team at Kentucky Children’s Hospital put together some helpful guidance and tips to encourage children to wear masks.

Other important reminders:

Don’t put masks on anyone who is unconscious, has trouble breathing or is unable to take the mask off without help. And remember, masks are NOT a substitute for social distancing. 

You might also like:

Parents: What to do, how to talk to your children about COVID-19 Encouraging kids to wear a face mask Social distancing: What it is, why it matters