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Updated CDC Guidance on Masks and Quarantine

Feb 23, 2021
Updated CDC Guidance on Masks and Quarantine

The CDC recently released updated guidance for mask wearing and quarantines to protect against contracting and spreading COVID-19.

Mask Guidance

Two ways to maximize the efficacy of your mask are to ensure that it fits snuggly against your face and to choose a mask with multiple layers to serve as a barrier for respiratory droplets. Air can leak out of gaps in your mask, so ensuring a snug fit can keep your respiratory droplets in and those of others out. Nose wires and mask braces help to prevent air from leaking out of gaps in your mask by fitting it snuggly to your face. To test for gaps in your mask, cup your hands around the edges of the mask to feel for warm air escaping through gaps around your nose or on the sides of the mask. If the mask fits snuggly, you should see the mask material move as you breathe. Click here for CDC guidance on how to select a mask.

To improve the fit of surgical masks, you can knot the ear loops together where they meet the mask and tuck the excess fabric in underneath the knot. To see a video tutorial on how to properly knot and tuck your masks, click here.

Adding layers of material also help to create a snug fit and to contain respiratory droplets. The CDC advises that you should either wear a cloth mask with multiple layers, or wear a disposable mask underneath a cloth one. Do not wear two disposable masks or wear another mask with a KN95 mask. Check out this New York Times piece about avoiding counterfeit N95 masks when buying online.

Quarantine Guidance

Quarantine helps to prevent those who have been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19 from spreading the disease. People who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days after their last contact with the infected individual. According to the guidance from the New York State Department of Health, those who do not develop any symptoms may end quarantine after 10 days, consistent with CDC guidance. For vaccinated individuals, the CDC says that you are not required to quarantine if you are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine), are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series of your vaccinations, or have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure. The CDC guidelines also say that those who have had COVID-19 in the last three months do not need to quarantine or get tested unless you develop symptoms. Those who must quarantine should stay home and monitor their health. Click here to read about "when to quarantine" per CDC guidelines and click here to read about quarantine and the COVID-19 vaccination.

Please do your part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by practicing the core four: stay home if you are sick, wash your hands often, wear a mask, and stay six feet apart from others. Additionally, you should get tested for COVID-19 often and get the vaccine if you are eligible.

Image credit: CDC.gov