Coronavirus concerns: How to properly wear non-medical, cloth masks in public

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending Americans cover their faces when leaving the home, the White House announced Friday.

“This is voluntary, I don’t think I’m going to be doing it,” President Donald Trump said at his daily White House briefing on Friday evening.

President Trump stressed that medical masks should be reserved for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

This comes as we’ve heard mixed messages in recent weeks about face masks.

In late February, Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams tweeted: “Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! 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!”

8 On Your Side Investigates spoke with Dr. John Greene about this issue before the CDC recommendations were announced Friday.

“What we said we should do a week ago may be different than what we’re saying today and it’s not because we don’t know what we’re talking about,” said Dr. Greene. “It’s because this is uncharted territory.”

Dr. Greene is the Chief of Infectious Diseases at Moffitt and a hospital epidemiologist. He’s studied infections for more than thirty years.

Some experts say covering your nose and mouth with a fabric is a good idea. However, others warn it can potentially cause more harm than good by giving you a false sense of security.

So should you cover your nose and mouth?

The new mask recommendation is driven by research that shows asymptomatic patients can spread the virus. So if you choose to wear a mask, you’re helping to protect others from your potentially-infected droplets.

8 On Your Side asked Dr. Greene about the research.

“What we found out is that when people are talking, they’re potentially spreading the virus,” said Dr. Greene. “Some people have claimed that talking for five minutes is the equivalent of one cough.”

“How do you cover your face safely and not end up doing more harm than good?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi.

“Well you have to make sure your nose and mouth are properly covered,” said Dr. Greene.

Also, he says, you must ensure you’re not touching your face with contaminated hands.

“We don’t realize but every hour, we touch our face about 30 times,” said Dr. Greene.

The bottom line, whether you wear a mask or not, Dr. Green says you still need to follow old guidance: stay at home, practice social distancing and wash your hands.

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