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Graphic touts unconfirmed details about masks and coronavirus

April 28, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: There’s a 70% probability of contracting the coronavirus if you are wearing a mask and confront someone with the disease who is not wearing one. The contagion probability drops to 5% if someone with coronavirus wears a mask and comes in contact with someone without a mask, and the contagion probability drops to 1.5% percent if both people are wearing masks. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Partially false. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the numbers in the graphic being shared online cannot be confirmed for accuracy, however, the nation’s public health agency recommends wearing cloth masks to help stop the spread of the virus. 


THE FACTS: A graphic being shared widely on social media claims to show the probability of contracting the coronavirus based on who is wearing a protective mask _ the person carrying the disease or someone who is not the carrier. 

According to the CDC, there is no current data that can quantify how much wearing a mask reduces the risk of contracting the coronavirus. The CDC recommends wearing face coverings that cover the nose and mouth, like T-shirts, bandannas and non-medical masks because the infection can spread from an asymptomatic person simply by speaking. 

“A simple cloth mask is a way to contain respiratory secretions right at the source and not put other people at risk,” the CDC said in a statement. “The mask traps the droplets before they spread into the environment.”

The graphic with the contagion claims spread across Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. Posts with the graphic encouraged people to “wear a mask to save lives.” Several variations of the graphic exist online. 

While cloth masks are recommended, federal officials still suggest leaving surgical masks and N95 respirator masks to those who need it most. 

The World Health Organization has said that masks are only effective when used with hand washing or using alcohol-based hand rub. 


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: