Coronavirus: Surgeon General Says to Stop Buying Face Masks

Coronavirus is currently spreading across the United States, causing people across the country to take preventative measures, some of which are not recommended by professionals. While a number of people have bought themselves face masks, experts actually recommend masks to a very small group.

The primary function of a face mask is to protect wearers from pollution or pathogens, not viral particles. Normal surgical masks are mostly used to protect others from the person wearing a mask, like a surgeon or someone who is already sick, rather than protecting the wearer from others who are ill. There are also tight-fitting N95 respirator masks, which are much more effective at protecting against airborne diseases but make it more difficult to breathe and are not recommended for the average person.

"Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!" Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted last month. "They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"

Since the virus has spread, masks are now becoming more difficult to find online, which is putting healthcare workers and other people who need the masks to do their jobs, like construction workers, at risk.

In addition, wearing a mask could actually make you more susceptible to catching the virus, as people wearing them tend to fidget with them and could end up touching their faces and mouths more often than people without them.

Rather than wear a face mask, simple measures that everyone should be taking include washing your hands and not touching your face. Specifically, you should avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, because germs enter through facial mucous membranes. If you can't get to soap, use hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol content or higher. The New York Times also suggests getting at least a month's worth of any prescription or over-the-counter medicine you may need in case of self-quarantining, and it's also recommended to stock up on a few extra household items.

If you, yourself, feel stick, be sure to stay home if you can, and if there's an outbreak in your area, do what you can to distance yourself from others.

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The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the number of cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. has officially surpassed 800 with 27 deaths. Schools and universities are closing and major events are being postponed, including music festivals Coachella and Stagecoach.

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