People wearing face masks wait for a bus on May 14, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia (Olivier Douliery / AFP)

Face mask recommendations aimed at stopping spread of COVID-19

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A post on Facebook criticizes the effectiveness of face masks in protecting the wearer from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. This is misleading; US health authorities recommend they be worn to stop the spread of the disease, not to prevent the wearer from contracting it.

“Gee....wonder how many people are gonna tell me I haven't done my research now? Black and white. Right there. Even the people making the masks know it's all bull,” says the May 14, 2020 post, featuring a photo of a disclaimer on a box of masks, which does not show a brand name.

The masks “will not provide any protection against COVID-19,” the box says.

A screenshot of a Facebook post taken on May 18, 2020

But according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a face covering “is not intended to protect the wearer, but it may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others.”

A screenshot of a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention webpage taken on May 18, 2020

Face coverings can help prevent “people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it,” the CDC says.

AFP Fact Check has debunked more than 450 examples of false or misleading information about the novel coronavirus crisis. A complete list of our fact checks on the topic in English can be found here.

UPDATE: This story was updated on May 18, 2020 to correct a typo.