Creates physical barrier

A surgical mask is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. These are often referred to as face masks, although not all face masks are regulated as surgical masks. Note that the edges of the mask are not designed to form a seal around the nose and mouth.

The similarities among surgical masks and surgical N95s are:

  • They are tested for fluid resistance, filtration efficiency (particulate filtration efficiency and bacterial filtration efficiency), flammability and biocompatibility.
  • They should not be shared or reused.

Should I wear a mask?

If you are healthy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and infectious disease specialists do not recommend face masks. Most surgical masks are too loose to prevent inhalation of the [corona]virus.

However, if you are infected or show signs of a respiratory illness, a mask can help prevent the spread of a virus. Health care workers and people caring for sick people at home or in a health care facility should wear masks.

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medical professionals need masks

For this reason, the US government has urged the public not to horde masks in order to protect the supply for medical professionals on the frontline and for those who are known to be infected.