Here’s why it's important to wear face masks in public

Posted at 7:15 AM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 08:30:50-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — State and local leaders are asking everyone to wear a mask when they leave their house. In Nashville, Mayor John Cooper requires it. Here’s why masks are so important.

Health officials say masks are necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Masks are meant to prevent you from unknowingly passing the virus onto someone else, and doctors say it has no negative impact on the person wearing the mask.

They say the only drawback is with long term use of an N-95 mask, which could cause face sores. However, most people like us don't use N-95 masks because they're reserved for medical staff.

A very small amount of CO2 is recycled while wearing a mask, but for most people it's not enough to impact a person's health. Doctors say the only drawback is for a small group of people.

"For those that have COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, also known as emphysema who very much live on the edge with a high CO2 level all the time and a low oxygen level, that might have a very small effect in that situation. They might feel subjectively more short of breath. But, for the vast majority of people who don't have a chronic lung disease, no effect,” said Dr. Doug Nelson, internal medicine specialist.

Metro had planned to continue giving out free masks all week, but the city's supply of 25,000 were claimed in just one day. We'll let you know when they're back in stock.


See all our coronavirus coverage here


What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.