Johns Hopkins University immunology specialist debunks common face mask myths

Are masks safe to wear while exercising? What happens when your mask gets wet from sweat? Should babies wear a mask? Immunology Specialist Dr. Andrew Pekosz with Johns Hopkins University answered some common questions about face coverings and debunked some myths during his appearance on Good Day LA Monday.

With the recent spike of coronavirus cases, face coverings are now required in most indoor spaces in California to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 


• Newsom orders Californians to wear masks in most indoor spaces

• Arnold Schwarzenegger says anyone making COVID-19 masks ‘a political issue is an absolute moron’

Dr. Pekosz helped clarify a few things as face coverings have become part of the new normal amid the ongoing pandemic.  

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Cloth vs. surgical masks

"Cloths masks are really the best thing that people can use right now. They slow down the amount of particles that come out your breath and they really have been shown to reduce the amount of transmission of COVID-19."

Should we wear a mask while we exercise?

"A good rule of thumb is anytime that you’re going to be speaking, breathing heavily or in close contact with other people, it’s essential that you wear a mask. Masks shouldn’t interfere too much with exercising. You may need to get used to it having it on when you’re doing it, but it’s really the safest thing to do, particularly if you’re exercising inside. Exercising sends out a lot of air and a lot of plumes that can have the virus in it so masks are essential for that."

If sweat drips onto your mask, is it less effective as a result?

"You want to change your mask every 2 days or so, but if it gets wet... if you happen to cough into it or sneeze into it, it’s probably better to change it on a daily basis. And that’s why cloth masks are great. Most of them are cotton material. Just pop them in the laundry and they’re ready to go the next day. Having 2 to 3 of them around so that you can rotate helps you keep a fresh face cloth with you on a daily basis.”

The mask should go over your nose, mouth, and under your chin

"The mask should be above your nose and fit underneath your chin nice and snug. You can have it loop behind your ears or you can have the tie off, that doesn’t really matter. The important thing is over your nose and under your chin."

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Don’t touch the front of your mask

"That’s the place where it can be most contaminated so if you have to adjust it, use the ear connections or cover the very top or very bottom of the mask to adjust it. Use the loop or ties to adjust the mask when putting it on or off."

Face mask myths: True or false?

Myth: Masks only help if someone is sick

"False. Wear them all the time."

Myth: Wearing a mask will make me sick, dizzy or lose oxygen, even if I’m healthy.

"False. People have done these studies. They’re not the most comfortable thing but they really don’t interfere with your breathing or your oxygen intake and they don’t cause any problem with carbon dioxide accumulation."

Myth: Should babies wear masks? The CDC recommends it for those who are 2-years-old and older

"The problem with a child under the age of 2 and parents who have 2-years-old may think it applies to 2-years-olds as well who just can’t keep the masks on. You want to try to protect them. But usually children have to be able to understand why they’re wearing a mask and be able to keep them on for an extended period of time…babies really shouldn’t be wearing a mask. It really doesn’t work there."

This story was reported from Los Angeles.