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Verify: Myths vs. facts about face masks

Yes, they are effective if used correctly. No, they're not protecting the wearer; they're protecting those around them.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Wearing a mask in public has sparked months of debate, and a post by the City of Knoxville on Facebook Wednesday continued that conversation.

They worked to debunk mask myths, and the post garnered swift reaction from supporters and critics.

10News worked to independently verify all their facts, and found they are all true, correctly debunking three myths.

We took information for the Knox County Health Department, Tennessee Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RELATED: KCHD to resume distribution of state provided cloth face coverings

The first myth: "I feel fine. I don't need a mask."

The city's infographic said "the CDC reports 40 percent of coronavirus transmissions happen before people feel sick."

We can verify that's true. 

The statistic is on the CDC's website, along with the other claim the virus can spread two days before symptoms show.

So it's true that you can spread COVID-19 even if you don't feel sick.

RELATED: Knox County puts temporary hold on requests from businesses for bulk supplies of free masks

The next graphic said "the only mask worth wearing is an N95 mask."

The graphic and the Tennessee Department of Health said N95 masks are to be reserved for medical workers.

N95 masks are the best and most effective form of protection for frontline workers facing the virus directly.

The CDC said everyone else can get the same protection in day-to-day life using homemade or store-bought cloth masks.

We can verify the second myth is debunked.

The last myth shared said "wearing a mask causes you to inhale too much carbon dioxide, which can make you sick." 

The Health Department said there's really no way prolonged mask use can make someone sick.

"I have seen pictures of people who wear masks daily who get some irritation on their face from either the material the mask is made of or just moisture," said KCHD Director Dr. Martha Buchanan.

RELATED: County's health board to weigh in on plans to shift to Phase 3 of virus response

She said that moisture build-up isn't ideal, and to change masks or take a break if the mask is wet.

Buchanan said it's OK to take off your mask if you need a break and are socially distanced.

The CDC recommends not wearing a mask for people who have difficulty breathing or are under 2 years old.

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