Coronavirus: Do you need a mask to protect yourself?

Passengers wear masks as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19 after their plane landed at the Sao Paulo International Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

As the CDC warns of the potential for the coronavirus to spread in the United States many people are looking to buy face masks to help protect themselves.

Many medical supply stores are attempting to keep up with demand but are quickly selling out. 

However, the Director of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama-Birmingham says that face masks will not completely protect a person from the coronavirus.

“If you can get a face mask, that’s fine. If you can’t get a face mask, don’t panic. A face mask is not going to protect you from everything and it won’t protect you totally from this virus,” said Jeanna Marrazzo, M.D. “Hand washing is if not more important than a face mask because most of the time we transmit these viruses through hand-to-hand contact or body-to-body contact, surface-to-hand contact.”

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States is now more than 60 and the virus has reached 50 countries, infecting over 80,000 people worldwide

Health officials say they are working on a vaccine for the virus, but it may not be available for more than a year. 


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