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Should travelers wear facemasks?

Up to 25 percent of people infected with the novel coronavirus may not exhibit symptoms, and could be able to spread COVID-19 to others by breathing or talking. Furthermore, those who are infected and who are coughing or sneezing can spread COVID-19 readily. Because of this, many experts are now advising that we should all wear masks, regardless of how healthy we may be feeling, especially in enclosed spaces like grocery stores. This will help prevent us from unknowingly spreading the disease to others, and provide at least some protection from breathing in virus from others.

There is currently a shortage of manufactured masks like N95 respirator and surgical masks, and these should go to healthcare providers, who are at highest risk of becoming infected, first.

It is very important to learn how to safely put on, wear, and take off masks. To learn how to make your own mask, use it safely, and clean it well, please visit this resource.

According to the CDC, it is also important to take these important steps to reduce your chances of getting sick:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc.

    • Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
    • Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

  • If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Drafted 1 April 2020