With the current worry about the Corona Virus showing up in more and more countries, it is important to educate yourself about what is truly useful health advise, and what is not. The best option is to always turn to the experts if you can. However, if you can’t speak to your local doctor right away, there is always the CDC’s website, which has a dedicated section just for the Corona virus (aka COVID-19). Since most people here in the US aren’t currently dealing with actual infections yet, most people will probably be most concerned with the page on “Prevention & Treatment.”
One of the most relevant parts of the site, for anyone who is currently trying to prepare by purchasing facemasks, would probably be this section:
Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
The run on supplies that recently took place in China, sadly seems to have been made up of mostly useless purchases. True, it probably makes people feel better to be wearing a mask, but if they’ve purchased a standard dust-mask, it most likely won’t do them much good. Remember that COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacteria. Don’t get tricked into buying anything (especially on-line) that claims to block all diseases, because that claim is most likely inaccurate, or outright false. Also, please don’t think that it will grant you immunity, or act as an impenetrable shield. Nothing is foolproof, least of all a thin paper/cloth mask.
As stated on the CDC’s website, there is a valid reason to use them, but it’s mostly to help prevent you from spreading the disease to others; not to help you avoid getting it from them. If you fear you might find yourself in a situation where you risk exposure, sure, having a mask on can’t hurt. However, the better option would probably be to avoid that situation instead, if at all possible that is.
Plus, no matter what, its always a good idea to regularly wash your hands, avoid touching your eyes. No need to actually deliver the virus to your own face, if you can help it. For updates, and more info on the Virus, please make sure to check the CDC’s website. With any luck, this thing will burn itself out soon, and we can all go back to worrying about our taxes instead. Hey, no one said being an adult would be fun.