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If you’re going to wear a face mask to protect against coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants you to be aware one thing that could make it less effective: beards.
A Zappa 'stache is fine, for example. So is a “lampshade,” whatever that is. But a Fu Manchu, no dice. And be careful not to cross the face mask’s seal with a “villain” mustache.
The CDC is recommending that doctors and nurses treating patients who might be infected with coronavirus should wear face masks. Health and Human Services Director Alex Azar said the country will need 270 million more masks for healthcare workers than it has on hand.
But facial hair could make those masks way less effective, the CDC previously warned.
In a 2017 infographic, the agency laid out in detail precisely how 36 facial hair stylings are or are not compatible with face masks. The chart is perhaps more useful as a catalogue of obscure beards than it is for explaining how to wear a face mask.
The CDC wrongly approved the soul patch. (The soul patch is never OK.) But at least they got the “chin curtain” right.
“Research tells us that the presence of facial hair under the sealing surface causes 20 to 1,000 times more leakage compared to clean-shaven individuals,” the CDC said in its blog post, originally written to encourage workplace safety in the face of the public health crisis known as “No-Shave November.”
The CDC isn’t recommending that anyone who isn’t working with patients wear a face mask for now. But Congress is asking for tons of money to fight the disease as the virus continues to spread. Over 80,000 cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, with 60 in the U.S. alone. Worldwide, about 2,770 people have died from the infection.
Cover: Beard infographic via CDC