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Why Are People Wearing Face Masks?


You've probably seen the medical face masks that doctors and nurses sometimes wear. The masks help stop germs.

Most medical masks are made of soft material that covers the nose and mouth. There are stretchy bands that go behind the head or ears. They keep the mask in place. The mask lets air go in and out, but not germs.

You might think those masks are mostly for the operating room. But lately, you probably see more people wearing them. And not just doctors and nurses, but other people too. You might see people wearing masks or cloth face coverings they made at home. You might get to wear one too.

That's all because of the new coronavirus that's going around. People are doing lots of things to keep this virus from spreading. Experts think that wearing a mask is one more thing that can help.

Who Will Wear a Mask?

You'll probably see lots of health care people wearing masks. Doctors and nurses will wear them. Medical people who give therapies and treatments will wear masks. They also might wear clear face shields or plastic glasses. Those can help stop germs too. In the hospital, people who keep the rooms clean, give directions, bring meal trays, and bring supplies also will wear masks.

While coronavirus is going around, doctors might see people with video visits instead of in person. They don't need to wear a mask for that.

Anyone can wear a mask when they need to be near other people. Many people who work at stores and restaurants will wear them. A mask is an extra way to stop germs. Some people might wear a homemade cloth mask. Some might wear scarves or bandannas to cover their nose and mouth.

How Will I Feel When I See my Doctors Wearing Masks?

At first, you might feel surprised to see your doctors wearing masks. You might even feel a little cautious. That's natural. It's just because you're not used to seeing them in masks. You're used to seeing their whole face.

But give yourself a minute and you'll get used to their new look. And as soon as you hear their friendly voice saying "hello," you'll probably relax and feel just fine.

You'll probably notice that, even with the mask, you can see the kindness on their face. You can't see their mouth, but you might be able to see the smile in their eyes. Maybe the mask is their way of saying, "My superpower is stopping germs." When you feel ready, go ahead and smile right back at them.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: July 2020