With airlines and states issuing mandatory mask requirements and the World Health Organization warning of an "infodemic" of disinformation about the novel coronavirus on social media, ABC News’ Dr. Jennifer Ashton sat down with "Good Morning America" to debunk three common myths about face masks:
1. Myth: Medical conditions prevent many people from wearing a mask in public
Few medical conditions would prevent someone from wearing a mask, Ashton said.
While people with mental health conditions, such as post traumatic stress syndrome or severe claustrophobia might have psychological reasons for not wearing a mask, in general, "If someone is well enough to be out in public, they are well enough to put some kind of face covering or mask on," Ashton said.
2. Myth: Masks cut off your oxygen to the point that they make you sick
"Masks are not air tight," Ashton pointed out, adding that oxygen and carbon dioxide molecules are small enough to easily pass through a face covering.
If masks made it impossible to breathe, then "any surgeon, any nurse, any lab technician, any person who works in a job that requires them to wear a mask would be passing out," Ashton said.
"Let's try to keep it to fact, not fiction," she added.
3. Myth: Wearing a mask eliminates the need for social distancing
False, once again. "To be crystal clear, it's not either a mask or 6 feet apart. It's both," Ashton said. "That's for everyone else's protection and it may be for your protection as well."
What to know about the coronavirus:
- How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
- What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
- Tracking the spread in the U.S. and worldwide: Coronavirus map
Tune into ABC at 1 p.m. ET and ABC News Live at 4 p.m. ET every weekday for special coverage of the novel coronavirus with the full ABC News team, including the latest news, context and analysis.