Fact check: What's true and what's false about face masks?
The USA TODAY Fact Check team is dedicated to verifying claims and fighting misinformation. Here's a list of recent fact-checks related to face masks:
Do face masks work against COVID-19?
Fact check: Ear loop masks – even homemade cloth masks – offer protection against COVID-19.
While ear loop and cloth face masks do not protect the wearer from contracting COVID-19, they do protect against spread to others.
Fact check: Masks are effective against COVID-19; OSHA doesn't say they offer no protection.
It is true that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to keep their environments' air at 19.5% oxygen or higher. But wearing face masks will not cause serious health effects, and they prevent the wearer from spreading the virus to others.
Fact check: No, N95 filters are not too large to stop COVID-19 particles.
The COVID-19 virus alone is smaller than the N95 filter size. But the virus travels attached to larger particles consistently caught by the filter, and regardless of size, the erratic motion of particles – and the electrostatic attraction generated by the mask – means viruses get consistently caught, too.
Fact check: Early research shows fabric could neutralize coronaviruses.
Initial research – not yet peer-reviewed or FDA-approved – found electroceutical fabric is able to neutralize the virus after a minute of contact with the electrical field generated by the fabric.
Fact check: Post makes faulty assertions about women and face coverings in Muslim-majority countries.
Women make up half the population of majority-Muslim countries – and within those countries, not all women wear niqabs or burqas. That makes it impossible to use that assertion to challenge the effectiveness of face masks in preventing COVID-19.
More:Masks required: Walmart, Target among retailers adding face masks requirements due to COVID-19. See the full list.
Are there dangers?
Fact check: Wearing a face mask will not cause hypoxia, hypoxemia or hypercapnia.
There is no evidence that the general public will experience oxygen reduction significant enough to result in hypoxemia. Carbon dioxide can build up in face masks, but it is unlikely that wearing a mask will cause hypercapnia, according to the CDC.
Fact check: Face masks do not weaken the immune system.
There is no evidence that face masks weaken the immune system. Risks associated with wearing face masks only apply to a select few in the general population.
Fact check: Face masks can be unsafe for children under 2, but not for most adults.
Young children should not wear face masks. But it's false that all mask-wearers will suffer hypoxia.
Video:New report from CDC says face masks can protect you and others from COVID
On face mask rules and recommendations
Fact check: No mask? You can ask why – it isn’t against HIPAA or the Fourth or Fifth Amendments.
It's legal for a business owner to ask an unmasked store patron why they aren't wearing a mask – even if that means asking about a medical condition – because neither HIPAA nor the Fourth or Fifth Amendments apply to individuals or business owners.
Fact check: ADA does not provide blanket exemption from face mask requirements.
The Americans with Disabilities Act does not allow anyone, disabled or otherwise, to ignore mask requirements without other precautions being taken.
Fact check: Document claiming to show CDC guidance about various types of masks is a fake
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not release guidelines to the general public saying cloth masks trap carbon dioxide.
Fact check: Disposable masks should always be worn colored-side-out.
Medical experts and a manufacturer say disposable face masks should always be worn with the wired edge upward and colored side outward.
Fact check: It is not a felony for Virginia concealed-carry permit holders to wear masks.
Based on Virginia law and one county's sheriff, it's not a felony for Virginia concealed-carry permit holders to wear masks.
Fact check: Discharge document from medical center is outdated.
The CDC widely recommends cloth masks in public settings. The information stated on an old Texas medical center document in contradiction to that is outdated, though a real document.
Fact check: New England journal article taken out of context, didn't bash face masks.
A New England Journal of Medicine article, published May 21, does say that masks offer "little, if any, protection from infection" outside health care facilities. But the resulting Facebook posts lack context, as the authors say the quoted statement referred to brief encounters in public places rather than sustained contact in close quarters.
On face masks and politicians
Fact check: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did not encourage violence against Michiganders not wearing masks.
Whitmer did call for Michigan residents to "politely, but also forcefully" enforce an executive order's mask mandate, but stating she was calling for others to respond with violence is wrong.
Fact check: Claim that Democratic leaders aren’t using masks is based on old picture.
An image showing top Democrats talking in close proximity with no masks is from December, months before the masks and social distancing became required in the U.S.
Fact check: Vice President Mike Pence did not carry empty boxes of PPE into a hospital.
The video, since deleted, was posted by Jimmy Kimmel and shortened. A full version reveals that Pence did not touch the empty boxes.
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.