Given that news about the deadly COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is practically unavoidable at this point, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a 2017 infographic about proper respirators use from the CDC is resurfacing.
What's surprising is... well, how utterly detailed and educational it is about:
(A) The facial hair types that work and don't work for properly securing a respirator to one's face,
(B) Just how many facial hair types there actually are, and
(C) The taxonomy of facial hair styles you didn't know existed, let alone were considered by the CDC.
Beardos and proud wearers of the fu manchu, we hate to tell you this: Your face is not CDC-approved. Also, congratulations to anyone rocking a "hulihee" for making it all the way to the 21st century from the frontier of America, however, your face is also, tragically, not CDC-approved.
Business Insider seemed to surface the three year-old graphic first, and it was followed with CNN's take: "The CDC has thoughts about soul patches and mutton chops. And they have to do with preventing coronavirus."
But, that's the thing: Respirators can only offer so much in the way of protection against coronavirus — a temporary one — and you have to have the correct kind (which is not simply a medical face mask), and it offers no better or worse protection against coronavirus than it would, say, flu season.
The CDC itself "does not recommend the routine use of respirators outside of workplace settings." Instead, it says, you should take "everyday preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, such as avoiding people who are sick, avoiding touching your eyes or nose, and covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue."
Or as Dr. Senu Apewokin, an infectious-disease specialist at UC Health, told the Cincinnati Enquirer:
"We worry more about influenza than the coronavirus. The things we would do to prevent against the coronavirus are the very things we would do against influenza, washing hands, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, avoid others who are ill, if you are sick, stay home.”
All of which is to say: Don't panic-shave that chin curtain just yet. That said, if things do, in fact, get to the point where we're all wearing respirators everywhere, all of the time, not all is lost: May we recommend a switch to, say, the zappa?
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