Jul 17, 2020


Interviewer: We know that wearing masks definitely reduces the chance of spreading COVID-19. But how robust of a mask do you need? Is a simple cloth mask enough?

Dr. Tom Miller is the Chief Medical Officer at University of Utah Health. If I go online to buy some masks, do I need to get the super expensive ones?

Dr. Miller: No, no. You get a cloth mask. When you're out in public and you're going to the grocery store or you're shopping and you're in groups, cloth masks will do. You do not need to go on a website and buy a $10 mask. A nice dollar mask is just fine. And then there are sites, especially in Utah, where you can get a free mask. You can get that for yourself and other family members, and I would encourage people to do that. There's no need to spend exorbitantly on a mask.

Interviewer: I don't need the one with filters in it or any of that sort of stuff?

Dr. Miller: Not unless you're doing surgery.

Interviewer: Okay. Or doing woodwork or something.

Dr. Miller: Or doing woodwork or spraying insecticide or something like that.

Interviewer: Right. Because the mask for COVID-19 isn't about protecting you per se from breathing in. It's to prevent . . .

Dr. Miller: Protecting others.

Interviewer: Yeah, from you exhaling. Because how does that virus spread? We know how it spreads.

Dr. Miller: It spreads primarily through droplets. And if the mask blocks that, you know, your chance of somebody picking that up from you is much, much lower if you're COVID positive.

Interviewer: So making a mask just out of regular cloth at home would even be acceptable as well?

Dr. Miller: That would be, and a lot of people actually, who have sewing skills, are doing this. In fact, I have a mask that my friend's wife sent me from Oregon. And it's a wonderful thing, and I wear it all the time. It's very colorful. It's nice.

Interviewer: Just a simple, cheap cloth mask.

Dr. Miller: Simple cloth mask, covers nose and mouth, with ear loops. Perfect.

For Patients