Local and state public health agencies currently do not recommend that people wear
masks when they are in public. This is because the immediate health risk to the general
public in the US is currently low. Additionally, scientists are not sure whether wearing
a mask in public actually keeps healthy people from getting sick. It’s most important
for people who are sick to wear a mask in a healthcare setting (such as a waiting
room) to avoid exposing other people when they cough or sneeze.
In some parts of the world, mask use is customary. People wear masks often for a variety
of reasons, including to avoid pollen and air pollution, as a courtesy to others when
they have the common cold, and for other cultural and even social reasons.
The Department of Public Health recommends staying home and away from others if you
are sick. However, keep in mind that if we see our friends, neighbors or other community
members wearing a mask we should not assume that they have been exposed to coronavirus
or any other illness (coronavirus is not currently present in our community). Because
mask use is customary in some cultures, it’s not appropriate to make assumptions about
why someone is wearing a mask or to stigmatize or discriminate against people who
choose to wear masks.