COVID-19 Story Tip: The Importance of Wearing a Mask


Perhaps one of the most striking lifestyle changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic is the mandatory use of face masks in grocery stores, restaurants and other public places. Wearing a mask, especially when in close proximity to others, is imperative to slowing the spread of COVID-19. But one look outside of your “safe-at-home” haven and you might find people wearing masks in a variety of different styles: dangling from one ear, pulled down below the nose or resting below the chin. These common mistakes decrease the effectiveness of masking and increase the wearer’s risk of catching and spreading the disease.

Many people who have COVID-19 don’t show symptoms but can still spread the virus through droplets that escape from the mouth when speaking, sneezing and coughing. Scientists have proven that masking lowers COVID-19 cases, even in the long term. As we approach back-to-school season, public knowledge of proper masking technique is now more important than ever.

Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds before and after touching a mask. Wearing a mask might feel uncomfortable at first, so it is important to adjust the mask to make sure it properly fits over the nose, mouth and chin and allows for comfortable breathing and speaking. To avoid common mistakes, remember these five don’ts:

  1. Don’t touch your or your child’s mask while it is being worn.
  2. Don’t wear the mask under your chin with your nose and/or mouth exposed.
  3. Don’t leave your nose and/or mouth uncovered.
  4. Don’t remove the mask while around others in public.
  5. Don’t share your mask with family members or friends.

Director of Operations for Department of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control (HEIC) at the Johns Hopkins Hospital Polly Trexler, M.S., C.I.C., is available to speak about how to wear a mask properly and the importance of masking in slowing the spread in the future. The card, circulating online from the fictitious Freedom to Breathe Agency, claims the holder will incur mental or physical risk by wearing a mask. The card also alleges the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) forbids a business from asking the holder why they are not wearing a mask, which may result in fines.

For information from Johns Hopkins Medicine about the coronavirus pandemic, visit For information on the coronavirus from throughout the Johns Hopkins enterprise, including the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and The Johns Hopkins University, visit