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Face Coverings and Masks

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Advice and Information for the General Public

General Guidance

There are several things you can do to keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19, including:

  • Wearing a cloth face mask
  • Maintaining 6 feet of physical distance at all times
  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds, or using a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms

Face Coverings/Masks

Wearing a cloth face covering or mask, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, is important to help reduce COVID-19 transmission. COVID-19 spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or raises their voice, which can be inhaled by people nearby. Cloth face masks, especially when combined with physical distancing and other preventive measures, can prevent these respiratory droplets from traveling from person to person.

Most people do not need medical-grade facemasks or N95 respirators – these should be reserved for health care providers in accordinace with medical guidelines

You should wear a cloth face covering in all community settings, such as:

  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Gas stations
  • Restaurants, coffee shops and bars
  • Work settings, stations, and other areas where in close proximity such as meat and poultry processing workers
  • Limited social gatherings (If possible, hold gatherings outdoors; follow your state’s guidance and adhere to group size limits)
  • Religious services
  • Exercise facilities (Gyms, yoga studios)
  • Airplanes, rideshares and taxis, trains, buses, subways

To optimize your face covering’s ability to reduce COVID-19 transmission:

  • Masks/face coverings should be worn over the mouth and nose and under the chin
  • Before putting on or taking off your masks/face coverings, wash your hands with soap and water or use a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Wash cloth face masks after each use and replace non-cloth face masks (i.e. surgical masks) when visibly soiled.

Mask wearing is still vitally important even as vaccines are being rolled out across the country:

  • While those who are vaccinated can be protected from severe illness, they may still transmit the virus to others who are not, underscoring the importance of mask use even among those who are vaccinated.
  • Vaccines are being administered on a tiered priority basis; it will likely be several months before vaccines are more broadly available, leaving many unvaccinated over the next few months.
  • While immunocompromised individuals can receive the current vaccines if they have no contraindications, how well they are protected is unknown and may vary depending on the reason and severity of immunosuppression.
  • Uncontrolled community spread of COVID-19 nationwide coupled with new, more highly transmissible variants are overwhelming health care systems. Taking all possible precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19 is more important now than ever.

To learn more about COVID-19 visit IDSA COVID-19 Information and Safety Resources.


“Mask Up, America,” a national campaign that encourages people to wear face masks in public to stem the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and help the nation get back to business, is being launched by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Ad Council. Read full press release

Media outlets interested in obtaining the PSAs can find “out of home” ads here and banner ads here.

See highlights of our television media tour featuring members of the IDSA Board of Directors.

As part of the campaign, IDSA and the Ad Council have also partnered with the COVID Collaborative and the National Governors Association on a toolkit containing PSAs, social content, press guidance and more for governors to promote mask wearing in their states.

Mask Up America campaign resources for members.

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