Fact Check: Dirty masks don’t work well

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC)— There has been a lot of talk about mandating masks in schools. There’s also been a lot of misinformation being shared. News10NBC is working to clear up any confusion.

If you’ve been following our coverage, you know local school board meetings have been pretty heated the past few weeks. A lot of claims are being made by board members, parents, and students.

Here’s one we heard: Wearing a dirty mask is worse than not wearing a mask.

"If it’s a mask that has obvious contamination on it, if it’s a mask that’s wet in any way, it’s not going to work very well. It’s not going to do what it’s supposed to do," Melissa Bronstein said.

She’s the Senior Director of Infection Prevention at Rochester Regional Health.

Bronstein says there’s no question, a dirty mask does not work well. That is a fact, but does that mean if your mask is dirty you shouldn’t bother wearing one?

"I would say if the choice is a dirty mask or nothing at all, I guess a dirty mask is better than nothing, but it’s not something I would recommend either," Bronstein said.

Here’s another claim we heard at a school board meeting: Cheap masks don’t work well.

Bronstein says it comes down to masks filtering and fitting properly. The CDC recommends a mask with multiple layers that completely covers your nose and mouth.

"The most important thing for masks to be effective, is that number one it’s constructed properly, that it stays dry and that it stays stays fitted around your face," Bronstein said. "If it does, that doesn’t matter what the cost is."

What about cleaning your mask? The CDC says it needs to be washed whenever it gets dirty or at least daily. You can include it with your regular laundry.

Click here for the CDC’s guide to masks.


Check out other Fact Checks here. If you have an idea for Fact Check, email Nikki Rudd at nrudd@whec.com.