As of April 10th, in NJ you are required to wear a mask when in public. The CDC is still advising against the general public wearing traditional medical masks, such as surgical variants and N95 respirators, to preserve them for health care workers. Cloth masks do not make it impossible to catch or transmit a virus, but can help reduce the spread of coronavirus not just by protecting the wearer, but by preventing the wearer from breathing their germs everywhere.
As always, hand washing and social distancing are the 2 major keys to keep the virus from spreading.
Will a mask protect me from getting Covid-19? The best argument for wearing a mask, according to the CDC, is primarily to stop the wearer from infecting other people. The quality of the research on this topic is weak, with a lot of small, under-powered studies. But the studies that do exist generally favor more people wearing masks.
What kind of mask should I use? The CDC recommends a cloth mask or face covering, whether a professionally made mask or a homemade variant. Surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
When should I wear a mask? You should wear a mask in public, particularly while in settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (grocery stores and pharmacies) and especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
Do I need a mask if I’m walking or running in the open air? Probably not, but if used properly, wearing a mask probably can’t hurt, and might help encourage others to wear one too. The CDC specifies that it’s recommending cloth face coverings where social distancing isn’t possible. A solitary walk or run outside is typically not going to fall into one of those categories.
Why aren’t more medical masks available? The simple answer is that supply hasn’t kept up with demand. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, China made half the world’s face masks. When the outbreak took off there, China started to use its supply and hoard what remained. This problem has only spread since, as more and more countries hoard whatever medical supplies they can get.
If you are crafty and want to make and donate cloth masks, WeNeedMasks.org provides options for most states and Puerto Rico. If you want to try making some masks of your own there are tutorials everywhere, just Google some, or this page has links for several.