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CDC now recommends that even healthy people wear masks

May 27, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Social media posts suggest the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not currently recommend that healthy people wear face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The CDC did not recommend healthy people wear face masks at first, but that guidance has changed over time. The CDC now advises people to wear cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

THE FACTS: A photo posted by a Facebook user on Monday with more than 22,000 views features text that advises healthy people not to wear masks. The photo captures a screenshot of guidance that appears to come from the CDC.


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“CDC does not recommend that people who are healthy wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19,” the post reads. “Facemasks should be worn by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.”

The text in the post matches what the CDC recommended to the public in March, but the federal agency’s guidance has changed, which makes the post misleading. 

Starting on April 3, the CDC began recommending that everyone wear cloth face masks in public settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations. This guidance is still in effect today.

The CDC changed its guidance on face coverings as new information emerged about the spread of the novel coronavirus. Since the virus is highly contagious, even among people who may not be showing symptoms, the CDC now recommends face masks as a way to prevent the virus’s spread.

“A cloth face covering may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others,” according to the CDC website.

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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: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536