Important update: Healthcare facilities
CDC has updated select ways to operate healthcare systems effectively in response to COVID-19 vaccination. Learn more
To maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others, get vaccinated as soon as you can and wear a mask indoors in public if you are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
UPDATE
Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.
UPDATE
The White House announced that vaccines will be required for international travelers coming into the United States, with an effective date of November 8, 2021. For purposes of entry into the United States, vaccines accepted will include FDA approved or authorized and WHO Emergency Use Listing vaccines. More information is available here.
UPDATE
Travel requirements to enter the United States are changing, starting November 8, 2021. More information is available here.

Improve How Your Mask Protects You

Improve How Your Mask Protects You

Correct and consistent mask use is a critical step everyone can take to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19. Masks work best when everyone wears them, but not all masks provide the same protection. When choosing a mask, look at how well it fits, how well it filters the air, and how many layers it has.

Two important ways to make sure your mask works the best it can
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Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask

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Pick a mask with layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out. A mask with layers will stop more respiratory droplets getting inside your mask or escaping from your mask if you are sick.

Image of Lady wearing mask

For more information on science behind improving how your mask protects you, see Improve the Fit and Filtration of Your Mask to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19.

For more information on wearing a mask and personal protective equipment in healthcare workplaces, see Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic.

Do

Choose a mask with a nose wire

  • A nose wire is a metal strip along the top of the mask
  • Nose wires prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask.
  • Bend the nose wire over your nose to fit close to your face.
Lady wearing red facemask

Use a mask fitter or brace

  • Use a mask fitter or brace over a disposable mask or a cloth mask to prevent air from leaking around the edges of the mask.
Man wearing blue facemask

Check that it fits snugly over your nose, mouth, and chin

  • Check for gaps by cupping your hands around the outside edges of the mask.
  • Make sure no air is flowing from the area near your eyes or from the sides of the mask.
  • If the mask has a good fit, you will feel warm air come through the front of the mask and may be able to see the mask material move in and out with each breath.
illustration of person cupping hands on the sides of mask

Add layers of material

2 ways to layer

  • Use a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric.
  • Wear a disposable mask underneath a cloth mask.
    • The cloth mask should push the edges of the disposable mask against your face.

Make sure you can see and breathe easily

Layers of masks

Knot and tuck ear loops of a 3-ply mask

  • Knot the ear loops of a 3-ply face mask where they join the edge of the mask
  • Fold and tuck the unneeded material under the edges
  • For instructions, see the following https://youtu.be/GzTAZDsNBe0external icon.
knot and fold

Other things to consider

Certain types of facial hair, like beards, can make mask fitting difficult. People with beards can do one or more of the following:

  • Shave their beards.
  • Trim their beards close to the face.
  • Use a mask fitter or brace.
  • Wear one disposable mask underneath a cloth mask that has multiple layers of fabric. The second mask should push the edges of the inner mask snugly against the face and beard.

Masks designed for people with beards are being evaluated, and information will be provided when it becomes available.

COVID-19 Masks and Beards disposable fitter
COVID-19 Masks and Beards disposable cloth

Do NOT

Combine two disposable masks

  • Disposable masks are not designed to fit tightly and wearing more than one will not improve fit.
Wearing two disposable masks

Combine a KN95 mask with any other mask.

  • Only use one KN95 mask at a time.
Man wearing N95 and disposable masks