Why face masks with valves are not permitted at CCHW

Important update on masks

During the pandemic, we’ve all had to learn a lot of new habits and adapt continuously to evolving conditions. Wearing masks is one of those things. We don’t know anyone who loves wearing a mask, but many places, including CCHW, now require them, as recommended by public health authorities like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC points to increasing evidence that wearing cloth masks in public, especially indoors or in crowds, significantly reduces the spread of the virus. However, we’ve recently learned that not all cloth masks are equal. In particular, those with valves pose a risk to others.

Why cloth face masks work

Because people without symptoms can spread COVID-19, it’s especially important for everyone to wear masks when in places where other people are at close range (less than six feet apart). Your mask stops the germs riding on the respiratory droplets you breathe out (or talk, laugh, shout, cough, or sneeze out) from reaching people around you. Others wearing masks are protecting you from their germs in the same way.

The problem with mask valves

However, a mask with a valve (see picture above on the right) doesn’t work that way. The valve mask is more comfortable, because it allows your out-breath to be expelled easily (and unfiltered) through the valve. Unfortunately, that also defeats the purpose of wearing the mask. Breathing out unfiltered air is the same as wearing no mask at all for the protection of others. Masks with valves are being banned in some places for this reason. And, now that we’ve learned more about it, we have decided not to permit face masks with valves at CCHW.

Reducing mask discomfort

If wearing a mask is a struggle for you, this article in the New York Times looks at breathing difficulties in general and with regard to mask use specifically.  It includes advice about learning to breathe deeper and slow down your breathing, which can help reduce mask discomforts, and has the added benefit of calming anxiety.

As always, let us know if you have any questions or comments.


Considerations for Wearing Cloth Face Coverings – Centers for Disease Control, updated June 28, 2020

Yes, You Can Get COVID-19 from Someone Without Symptoms – Healthline, June 12, 2020

Why Some Cities and Counties Are Banning Face Masks With Valves – Forbes, May 26, 2020

Looking at Masks and Respiratory Health – New York Times, June 15, 2020

Charlotte Miller is CCHW's Office Manager