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Here's how to wear a mask in public, and where it could be required soon

Health officials tell WUSA9 that masks are not a reason to relax frequent hand-washing or social distancing at places such as grocery stores and pharmacies.

WASHINGTON — Less than one week after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended wearing masks in public, local health officials are stressing that face coverings are simply a tool to combat COVID-19 and not perfect protection.

“That can provide an extra barrier from expelling virus and shedding virus into the world,” said Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles. On Wednesday, he told WUSA9 that masks are not a reason to relax frequent hand-washing or social distancing at places such as grocery stores and pharmacies.

“We found data that it is possible to transmit COVID-19 even when you don’t have symptoms,” said Gayles.

The Montgomery County Council has now proposed requiring businesses to give masks to essential workers by April 16. The ordinance would force workers to wear masks on the job. The proposal also says that customers would have to wear masks inside Montgomery County businesses starting April 23.  

“If you are going to wear a mask, wear it properly,” said Pam Farrare-Wilmore, who specializes in infectious diseases at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. CDC guidelines say you should use homemade masks from cloth so medical-grade masks are for freed up for health workers. Farrare-Wilmore says a mask must cover the top of your nose all the way to the bottom of your chin.

“It helps contain our respiratory droplets,” said Farrare-Wilmore. “We don’t want it below our nose, we don’t want it hanging below our chin, we want it to cover our nose, our mouth, and below our chin.”

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