Realities of facemasks in fight against coronavirus exposure

Surgical facemasks likely won’t protect against coronavirus, according to officials, who said it’s recommended for those already sick, but an N-95 respirator mask can effectively filter air particles.
5:00 | 02/27/20

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Transcript for Realities of facemasks in fight against coronavirus exposure
you so much, Marcus. More on the coronavirus tragedy and how concerned you should be and what you should do to protect yourself and your family. We're seeing a rush to buy face masks and T.J. Holmes is here with more on that. Good morning. Let me try to make it play, stra. I have one surgical face mask here between the two of us, between me and Tom. He's sick, I'm not. Who should get your mask? Your natural instinct, give me that mask but I should be begging him to wear it. The sick person better protects me as if I were wearing it myself. All these masks are floating out. Which ones you should use. None of them. As coronavirus fears sweep the country, many are turning to protective face masks hoping to keep the germs away. Gwyneth paltrow, Selena Gomez and Kate Hudson posting pictures of theirs. The surgical face mask that many are turning to for protection from coronavirus likely won't protect you according to health officials. These types of masks instead are recommended for people who are already sick because they're designed to prevent a person from spreading germs. But there's another mask called an n95 or respirator Marv which the fda says has a very efficient filtration keeping out 95% of airborne particles but health officials only recommend these for health care professionals in constant contact with sick patients. I think people see a mask and they see an illusion of protection that if they put the mask on, it'll somehow block viruses from getting into their mouth or nose when they breathe. That's just not the case. Anyone who does not have a respiratory illness meaning a cough or sneezing should not be wearing any type of mask whether it's a surgical mask or a respirator. Reporter: But that hasn't stopped the public from buying up masks. Stores and websites sold out. ABC news gaining exclusive access inside this 3M factory in uth Dakota where they're working around the clock to meet demand. Amazon even reportedly warning third party retailers that are taking advantage of this mask hysteria raising prices by more than 400%. Health officials are preparing for a potential shortage. The masks should be for the health care workers. The public should not be buying masks. Reporter: And believe it or by not, by wearing a mask you could put yourself at even more People do not use their masks correctly. They play with it. They wear it too long. They rub their nose underneath it. You hear that, folk, you could make it worse? What do you do all day, you do exactly what they tell you, touch your face all day and getting sick. This graphic, people had fun wit. From the CDC. It's an official graphic from the CDC that shows all these different facial hairstyles and telling men how this could actually deep you from wearing your respirator correctly. There is a side whisker, mutton chop, zorro style, but this was put out years ago. This was not for coronavirus. It is for people who actually do work in industries where they need to wear respirators so a serious graphic that made the rounds. We need to pay attention to it but Dr. Jen will speak to it. It does show the seriousness of this matter of wearing these masks the right way. 100%. Dr. Jen, welcome back. We talked about how sick people should wear them. The are others who should wear them. When you had your stem cell transplant, you know, if someone has -- is a transplant patient, they have a weakened immune system, of course, that's going to be individual case by case basis, you know, to wear a mask. That is a very small percentage of people. Okay, as T.J. Said we use surgical masks in hospital settings or even, you know, out in the public on sick people, okay. Viral particles, coronavirus and influenza to name two go right through that mask, okay, so if you say, well then why is it helpful? Because people coughing, sneezing, spewing large particles out into the room, of course, that's a barrier but they can go right in. That's why they're not helpful. What I want to show you is these n95 respirators, there are a bunch of different styles. These are what we use in hospital settings for health care providers. They have to be measured for your face. I went through this process. It took several attempts, different sizes, different models to actually find the one that works for me. They have to be put on properly. You see the two elastic band, one has to be high on the head one around the neck. We're seeing people wear them incorrectly. These are not for lay public I know. It drives you crazy when you see the video and people are wearing them incorrectly. If people really get sick with anything not just coronavirus and they can't go to a hospital and have healthy health care workers take care of them we're in a much bigger situation. Something to keep in mind. As always, Jen, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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