To wear or not to wear a facemask

Chief medical officer at UCR Office of Student Health Services has advice

March 25, 2020
Author: Iqbal Pittalwala
March 25, 2020

Editor's note: On March 31, 2020, Riverside County health officials issued a recommendation for facemasks.


During the coronavirus outbreak, it is not uncommon to find people wearing facemasks. Do these masks protect those who are well? Who should wear them?
Dr. Kenneth Han, chief medical officer at the Office of Student Health Services on campus, asks everyone to follow the advice offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.
He said the CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.
“Wear one only if a healthcare professional has asked you to do so,” Han said. “People who are well should not wear one. If you have COVID-19, please wear a facemask because it could help others from getting infected.”
CDC guidelines note that “the use of facemasks also is crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).”
Han mentioned that the N95 facemask is for healthcare workers who are in direct contact with sick patients.
“N95 facemasks need to be ‘fit tested,’ meaning you need the right type of mask model number for your face and chin size so that a tight seal is created,” he said. “This test is completed by certified N95 personnel. For all others who want to wear a facemask despite the CDC recommendations, a regular facemask is recommended — even a piece of cloth for the sick to cover their coughs and prevent possible infectious aerosolized saliva from spreading in air.”