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VERIFY: Face mask facts vs. falsehoods

The VERIFY team breaks down some of the most asked questions about wearing face masks.

The VERIFY team is constantly getting questions from viewers about wearing face masks. Here are some of the most frequently asked.

DO MASKS WORK?

While there is still research being done to determine how effective masks are - experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins University all say that they serve an important purpose right now.

The CDC explains that masks aren’t primarily meant to stop the virus from getting to you. They’re meant to stop you or other contagious people from spreading the virus to others.

COVID-19 typically spreads via respiratory droplets, Masks, even those made of cloth, are effective at catching those droplets as people expel them. Since COVID has been shown to be contagious before patients experience symptoms, experts say it’s important to wear a mask before you feel sick.

Do OSHA or other government groups warn against masks?

Multiple claims cited the Occupational Safety and Health Administration along with claims that face masks could be harmful and should be avoided.
The VERIFY team checked with OSHA, who said these claims are false. 

OSHA openly supports wearing masks in public and for employees returning to work. 

While some politicians debate the use of masks there are currently no government or medical groups that warn against wearing them.

Can wearing masks cause carbon dioxide poisoning or harm my oxygen levels?

One of the more popular claims against masks says they trap carbon dioxide and cause you to breathe it back in. According to the CDC, that claim is not true. 

The CDC explains that carbon dioxide build-up is incredibly rare and only really a concern with sealed respirators and medical-grade devices. 

The CDC explained: “Specific to the viral image, it is unlikely that wearing a mask will cause “anoxia,” “asphyxiation,” “hypercapnia,” or “hypercarbia.” While CO2 will slowly build up in the mask over time, any symptoms experienced with low levels of CO2 are resolved upon removal of the mask and breathing room air for a minute.

Can I use the "Americans With Disabilities Act" to get out of wearing a mask?

Certain viral posts claim that you can cite ADA if you don’t want to wear a mask - there are even printable cards you can carry. But the Department of Justice says these aren’t real and don’t carry legal weight.

It’s also important to note that stores may not be able to force you to wear a mask, but they can legally refuse to serve you if you choose not to wear one.

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