Mask Guidance

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The best way to protect your friends and family and yourself is a layered approach:

Surgical or procedure masks, like a KN95 or an N95, offer the best protection. Masks should fit well and have multiple layers.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death. If you are not vaccinated, you are at greater risk of catching and spreading COVID-19.

Updated Mask Recommendations

Effective May 4, 2022

Every day we learn more about the virus, and we now have a wider array of effective tools to reduce risk: 

  • Vaccines and boosters are widely available. They help protect against severe illness, hospitalization and death.
  • Treatment is available for people at higher risk of severe disease.

Because well-fitting masks provide extra protection, you may still choose to wear one. Businesses should make the best decisions for their employees and customers. Please be respectful of others who choose to wear a mask.

Masks are still required in places like health care and long-term care. This is because of the setting or federal regulations.

For more tips and information, visit CDC mask guidance.

Tips for Wearing Your N95 Mask 

Mask Guidance for Improved Effectiveness

When should I wear a mask?

NCDHHS recommends you wear a mask if: 

  • You are at high risk for severe illness.
  • You are unvaccinated or not up-to-date on your vaccines.
  • You have COVID-19 or were exposed to the virus.
  • You want an added layer of protection.
  • You are in a high-risk setting (example: health and long-term care; correctional facility; homeless shelter).
  • You are in an area where COVID-19 levels are high.
Choose a mask that has two or more layers, fits snugly over your nose and mouth and is comfortable.

People who may not need to wear a mask

You may not need to wear a mask if you:

  • Have a medical or behavioral condition or disability. This includes trouble breathing, unconsciousness or inability to put on or take off a mask without help. 
  • Are under the age of 2.
  • Are communicating with someone who is hearing-impaired and your mouth needs to be visible.
  • Are operating equipment or a vehicle and find that your mask reduces visibility.

Research and Resources