A guide to wearing masks

Inconsistent messaging leaves many confused: When do you need to wear a face mask and when do you not? And does it even really matter?

Governor Gretchen Whitmers order requiring people to wear face coverings in public places has left a lot of people upset, confused, or downright angry. In rare cases, it’s even led to violence.

What’s the science behind the requirement? And when is it still okay to go without a mask? Bridge Magazine put together a primer on everything face mask-related.

To begin with, there is solid science behind the governor’s order requiring face masks. Studies show that COVID-19 spreads most easily in droplets of saliva that are expelled when we cough, sneeze, and even speak. Face masks reduce the likelihood of those droplets reaching someone else.

The much sought-after N95 masks that were so hard to find early in the pandemic are the gold standard in protecting against contracting COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean every other mask is useless.

“Anything that creates a barrier” reduces the risk of spread, said Dr. Nik Hemady, chief medical officer for Honor Community Health.

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When do you need a mask and when can you skip it?

The governor’s order requires someone to wear a mask if they are going to be in any public indoor space or any outdoor space where they won’t be able to keep a six-foot distance between themselves and other people.

There are ten exceptions. Those excluded from the order are:

  • Children under five years old
  • People who can’t medically tolerate a mask
  • People eating or drinking
  • People exercising (if the mask interferes)
  • People receiving services requiring a mask be removed (think dental checkup)
  • People having their identity checked
  • People communicating with someone who is hearing impaired
  • Public safety workers
  • People leading a religious service
  • People giving a speech

You can read the full explainer at Bridge Magazine’s website.

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