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Face Mask Confusion: What Should You Wear When You Go Outside?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — As the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow, many are facing face mask confusion.

Local, state and federal leaders are sending mixed messages about what you should be wearing on your face when you walk out the door.

Citing new data that shows high rates of transmission from people who are infected, but show no symptoms, the Center for Disease Control is changing its tune, every person should cover their face in public.

Jason Maggio with local clothing companies Official and All Good, recently started increasing its production of face masks.

Now these products are flying off the shelves, "We put some old masks on our site three weeks ago, and they sold out in one day," said Maggio.

Despite the demand, he says there has been confusion from customers.

Maggio said, "It's confusing to me, so I can't imagine being a consumer and trying to navigate what I should and shouldn't be doing what masks I should be buying, what masks I shouldn't be buying."

READ: Coronavirus Update: Placer, Sacramento County Health Officers Recommend Face Coverings In Public

Infectious disease expert Dr. Jeffrey Klausner says the philosophy is, "I protect you, you protect me."

"The idea is that if everyone wears a mask, if someone is infected and they don't know it, the mask will catch their respiratory droplets," said Dr. Klausner.

You can't see those droplets, but they are very contagious.

Until now, federal leaders have said people don't need to wear masks unless they are sick. That's partly to preserve medical-grade masks like the N95 for health care workers, and that's still true, but those masks are not available commercially.

ALSO: California Public Health Officials: Cloth Face Masks Could Help Prevent Spread Of Coronavirus

"N95 mask should be reserved for hospital use," said Maggio.

Experts say there's a purpose behind you wearing a paper or cloth mask.

"The origin of that new recommendation is, some new information that suggests when people are asymptomatic, had no cough, no sore throat, they are still contagious to other individuals," said Dr. Klausner.

The masks should cover your nose and mouth and should be secure. Placer County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson says any face covering should work, as long as you're not constantly touching your face.

But the Sacramento County Health Officer says the suggestion to wear scarves is not as effective.

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