Yes. Masking protects you and others from transmitting COVID. Numerous studies have shown that masks can effectively prevent the spread of COVID. Schools and areas with mask mandates have been shown to have lower transmission rates than areas that do not require masking. Masking traps droplets from your nose and mouth that contain COVID viral particles so that they can’t infect others. Because it is possible to be infectious and not have any symptoms, it is important that everyone wear a mask in situations where they come into close contact with others. In addition to other strategies like physical distancing, wearing a mask plays an important role in protecting you from getting COVID from others.
Everyone over the age of 2 years who is not yet fully vaccinated should wear a mask indoors as well as in crowded outdoors spaces. Fully vaccinated individuals should also wear masks indoors in areas of substantial rates of COVID spread, per CDC guidelines. Everyone is required to wear a mask on public transportation and in transportation hubs regardless of vaccination status. Check with your state or local health department to find out whether masks are required where you live.
Most face coverings including surgical masks, cloth masks, and respirator masks (e.g. N95s) provide some level of protection against COVID transmission by blocking the release of droplets that carry viral particles from your nose and mouth. Respirator masks like N95s are worn by healthcare providers performing certain medical procedures that put them at high risk for COVID-19 exposure but they are not always available or necessary for the general public and require testing by a trained professional to make sure they are working properly. For the general public, disposable surgical masks or cloth masks can be effective in most settings. Reusable cloth masks should have at least 2 layers of fabric, completely cover your nose and mouth, and fit snugly without gaps on any side. A nose wire also helps to prevent air from leaking out and can help to keep glasses from fogging up. Single layer coverings and face shields are not effective and should be avoided.