The primary purpose of a facemask is to prevent individuals who are SICK from spreading germs to others.
If you are healthy, you only need to wear a facemask when taking care of a person who has COVID-19.
There is no evidence that wearing a facemask prevents infection outside of healthcare settings, such as when traveling or going out in public.
When to Wear a Facemask
You should wear a facemask if:
- a medical provider diagnoses you with COVID-19.
- you are caring for someone confirmed to have COVID-19. Both you and the patient should wear masks when in close contact.
Proper Wear and Disposal of Facemasks
- Clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before putting on the facemask.
- Ensure the facemask covers you nose, mouth and chin; press the nose piece tightly against the bridge of your nose.
- Avoid touching the facemask.
- If the facemask becomes torn or wet, replace it with a new one.
- Remove the facemask by grasping the elastic ear bands or untying the mask and dispose in a lined trash container with other household waste. Do not touch the front of the facemask.
- Clean your hands immediately after removing facemasks.
The Military Health System Nurse Advice Line is available 24/7 by phone, web chat, and video chat. Call 1-800-874-2273 option #1 or visit
https://www.health.mil/I-Am-A/Media/Media-Center/NAL-Day-at-a-glance for more information.
N-95 respirators are not the same as facemasks and do not provide extra protection for the general public. N-95 respirators are for use by medical personnel who are caring for COVID-19 patients and performing procedures which increase their exposure risk. Users of N-95 respirators must be medically cleared to wear them, fit-tested to ensure proper function, trained on their use, and monitored as part of an occupational health program.