ATLANTA - A new recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control says people should wear cloth masks while in public areas where social distancing is difficult.
US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said the new recommendations come as health officials learn more about the virus.
"We're looking at the data, we're evolving our recommendations and new recommendations as the evidence dictates," Adams said during a news conference
Adams said the mask isn't necessarily to protect the person wearing it.
"We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms. They're what we call asymptomatic."
A person could be infected with the coronavirus without knowing it and spread the virus to others.
Health officials also say even those who eventually show symptoms could pass it to others before those symptoms appear.
Wearing a mask could help cut down the chances of potentially infecting others.
Adams said it's important to remember to wash your hands before putting the masks on.
"You don't want to put on a face covering with a dirty hand. Do not touch your face while you're wearing the face covering, because again, you can take materials from the surface, germs from the surface and bring it to your face," Adams said.
The masks can be made from cloth. People can also use bandannas or scarfs.
N95 masks should be left for the healthcare professionals and others who are working around are exposed to those with the virus.