On the heels of the latest announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying the spread of coronavirus in the United States is "inevitable," an infographic from the organization has resurfaced regarding facial hair and masks.
The infographic, released originally by the CDC in 2017, explains how some styles of facial hair work under a respirator, while others do not.
The CDC's (perhaps inadvertently amusing) graphic says soul patches and various styles of mustaches -- including "walrus," "lampshade" and "Zorro" -- are good because they do not block the sealing surface of a respirator on the face.
However, other types of facial hair, such as beards, goatees or even just stubble are not recommended because they may prevent the necessary seal from forming around the nose and mouth.
"For any style, hair should not cross under the respirator sealing surface," the CDC's graphic states.
The infographic also says many of the facial hair styles decrease a respirator's effectiveness because it could keep an exhalation valve from working properly if it comes into contact with the hair.
The CDC points out that respirators are most often worn by healthcare professionals and are meant to filter out at least 95% of very small particles. They are meant to be tight-fitting and have an adequate seal to the face.
Respirators are different from face masks, sometimes called surgical masks, which are loose-fitting and do not require a seal to the face. However, a face mask "does NOT provide the wearer with a reliable level of protection from inhaling smaller airborne particles and is not considered respiratory protection," the CDC says.
Patients are meant to wear face masks to prevent contamination of the surrounding area when a person coughs or sneezes.
The best way to protect yourself, the CDC says, is to wash your hands often, do your best not to touch your face, and avoid contact with those who are sick.
The CDC on Tuesday warned the American public to prepare for an outbreak of the disease, which has spawned more than 80,000 cases of COVID-19 around the world but relatively few so far in the U.S.
The U.S. count includes 14 Americans who traveled back from outbreak areas in China, or their spouses; three people who were evacuated from the central China city of Wuhan; and 42 American passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship who were evacuated by the federal government to the U.S. from where the ship was docked in Japan.
For more information on respirators, visit the CDC's website.