A workplace safety infographic put out by the Center for Disease Control began making the rounds on social media this week that has many men falsely thinking they need to shave off their beards and mustaches to avoid catching the virus. The infographic claims facial hair might interfere with respirator devices.
— New York Post (@nypost) February 26, 2020
But contrary to what people and even some media outlets are saying, the infographic was not produced in response to the current COVID-19 outbreak and is actually from 2017. It’s one of many respiratory protection infographics listed by a sub-branch of the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Science Alert reports:
Whoever dug the poster up must have missed the actual current coronavirus advice regarding respiratory protection, in which the “CDC does not recommend the routine use of respirators outside of workplace settings (in the community)”.
Since respiratory viruses typically spread among close contacts, the current advice is mostly standard stuff, and basically the same thing we are told every flu season: avoid sick people, stay at home if you are sick, avoid touching your eyes or nose, and cover your coughs and sneezes, ideally with a tissue.
A respirator is actually required to be fit-tested to be deemed fully effective–in which case facial hair can pose various problems, hence the infographic.
So, just to be clear, the CDC is not recommending men shave off all their facial hair to avoid catching coronavirus.
Also, for the record, the CDC isn’t recommending everyone wear surgical masks either. Instead, it says washing your hands with soap and water before eating, after using the bathroom, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and before and after caring for a sick friend or a family member.
Still freaking out? Here’s some useful and, more importantly, factual information about the coronavirus that might help put your mind at ease.