By Benjamin D. BriggsPatrick D. Joyce, and Craig B. Simonsen

Seyfarth SynopsisThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its original recommendation for all people to wear cloth face coverings when in public and around other people, now acknowledging that face coverings not only protect others, but also protect the wearer. 

On November 9, 2020, the CDC updated its guidance to explicitly recognize that not only do face coverings provide source control, they also create a barrier that provides some level of filtration protection to the wearer.

CDC’s original April 3, 2020 guidance noted that “masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice.” This is known as “source control,” and was presented by CDC as a method to protect others from potentially infected respiratory droplets exhaled from the wearer of the mask.

In its newly published Brief on “Community Use of Cloth Masks to Control the Spread of SARS-CoV-2,” CDC now suggests that “masks also help reduce inhalation of these droplets by the wearer (filtration for personal protection).” The Brief the outlines several studies showing a filtration benefit to the wearer, and concludes that “studies demonstrate that cloth mask materials can also reduce wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets through filtration, including filtration of fine droplets and particles less than 10 microns.”

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Safety and Health (OSHA/MSHA) Team.