To wear or not to wear: Expert weighs in on effectiveness of face masks

Just a few weeks ago health officials encouraged the general public not to wear masks in order to save them for healthcare workers, but new data has the CDC and the Trump Administration now revisiting those previously issued guidelines.

The demand for masks is increasing more than ever before. "The question now is that is trying to be answered is should everyone now wear a mask because of the potential of being asymptomatic, but exposed," USF professor of public health Dr. Marissa Levine said.

According to new data from the CDC, as many as 25% of people infected with the coronavirus may not show any symptoms. It's part of the reason the Trump Administration is working to issue new guidelines for wearing masks expected to come down Friday.

"If people wanted to wear them they can,” President Trump said. “If people wanted to use scarves, which many people have them, they can." 

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Masks can vary in type and size. Dr. Levine said people should know wearing a surgical mask doesn't necessarily protect you, but instead others around you.

"Masks generally don't fit very well and breathing in doesn't protect you from viral particles that you might be around so I worry that people might be falsely assured that they are protected," Dr. Levine said.

A limited supply of N-95 masks remains one of the biggest issues as there is a supply shortage for healthcare workers.

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Many companies and individuals are making their own masks. Some believe the move could help balance out the supply and demand, but there’s still concern over the effectiveness of homemade masks.

"If we get to the point where people are wearing more masks, I think understanding the fabric and how to wear the mask, how to put it on and take it off and how to clean it are really important," Dr. Levine explained.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know