Could Your Facial Hair Affect Your Chances of Catching Coronavirus?

According to the CDC, certain types could render a respirator ineffective

The CDC has warned that certain types of facial hair may interfere with respirators.
The CDC has warned that certain types of facial hair may interfere with respirators.
By Bonnie Stiernberg / February 26, 2020 10:12 am

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that Americans need to start preparing for a possible coronavirus outbreak stateside. One unexpected way you can do that? Shaving, apparently.

The CDC issued a handy infographic about which types of facial hair could potentially interfere with the effectiveness of a mask or a facepiece respirator and lead to the spread of the virus. Soul patches, handlebar mustaches and other upper-lip styles the organization has dubbed the Zappa, the walrus and the “toothbrush” (which most of us would more likely recognize as a Hitler mustache, and why would anybody have one of those in 2020?) are safe, while beards, stubble and mutton chops could put you more at risk.

There is some good news for those of you who invested heavily in oils and waxes for your facial hair: goatees and curled, old-timey “villain” mustaches are okay “with caution.”

According to the infographic, facial hair could potentially render a respirator ineffective because “it may keep the exhalation valve from working properly if the two come into contact.” It warns that hair should not cross the respirator sealing surface.

A respirator covers the nose and mouth and prevents the wearer from inhaling hazardous or infectious particles. There are currently at least 80,067 cases of the coronavirus worldwide, and 2,700 people have died from the disease. As of Monday (Feb. 24), there were 53 known cases in the United States.

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