Do people need to wear a face mask in their own home?
The discourse around wearing face masks has been confusing throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
By now, it’s common sense to put your face mask on when walking out the door, but when to wear a mask in your own home is a different story.
Infectious disease experts told Today that there are two circumstances where people should put their face mask on within their own homes.
When anyone who doesn’t live with you comes over
“Whenever you have someone who is coming into your home that’s not a member of your immediate household, they should wear a mask, you should wear a mask, you and whoever else is in the house should wear the mask,” Soniya Gandi, MD, associate chief medical officer, Cedars-Sinai/Marina Del Rey Hospital, said.
Gandi explained how you do not know if that person is infectious or asymptomatic and can still transmit it. Wearing face masks and practicing social distancing when others come into your home can help mitigate the risk of transmission.
Thomas A. Russo, the chief of the division of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said wearing the right mask will help keep everyone safe in your home.
“Either a N95, surgical mask or well-fitting multilayered cloth mask — no bandanas, no scarves, no gators and definitely no masks with valves, because those valves are just one-way valves, so they protect the wearer but the stuff that they breathe out is not filtered, so if they were infectious they’d just be spewing stuff on you,” Russo added.
If you are all wearing well-fitting masks that go over your nose and mouth the entire time, your risk of contracting COVID-19 from a visitor is relatively low.
Gandi added that this recommendation extends to family and friends who don’t live with you.
When someone in your home is sick
If someone in your home experiences COVID-19 symptoms, it might be a smart idea for you and them to wear a face mask until they get tested.
“The individual should isolate the best they can, use a separate bathroom if at all possible, and try to get COVID tested as soon as possible,” Gandi said.