Here are the facts: Mask wearing is effective at protecting others from asymptomatic infections. There is even a new type of mask you can purchase in the coming weeks that actually protect you from the virus. Tap or click here to find out more about face shields. Despite the science, misinformation about masks continues to run rampant on social media. A perfect example is a widely circulated screenshot of a so-called CDC order that claims wearing masks are actually dangerous for your health. As it turns out, this post is a hoax and one that can potentially lead to great harm. Here’s why.

A hoax that can lead to more infections

According to The Daily Beast, a fake CDC notice is circulating with extensive misinformation on the benefits of masks in fighting COVID-19. The bulletin, which appears as a printed screenshot in most versions of the hoax, uses authentic CDC letterhead to add to its credibility and makes some absolutely wild claims on what wearing a mask will do to your health. Right off the bat, the notice claims that the CDC “does not recommend that the general public wear N95 respirator mask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including coronavirus (COVID-19).” What’s more, it then starts breaking down the supposed dangers of wearing other masks. One claim it makes is that wearing cloth masks can actually harm your health or make you more vulnerable to infection. This echos claims made in a widely discredit documentary that went viral on social media just months ago. Tap or click here to find out more about this viral video hoax. The CDC has issued a statement to The Daily Beast in response to the hoax, claiming that it doesn’t accurately reflect the type of messaging it would normally use. In its own words, “CDC typically does not issue guidance or recommendations to the public in such a format.” It also added that “CDC’s guidance and recommendations are distributed on the agency’s website, official social media accounts, and through news media.” This means if you see a printout, screenshot or anything that doesn’t come from a direct CDC website link or official account, you can disregard it as fake news.

Why is this hoax dangerous?

Regardless of one’s stance on mask-wearing, the impersonation of a government agency to validate specific points of view is troublesome. People tend to rely on official sources for guidance, and inaccurate information coming from an impersonator can add even more confusion to an already complex topic. It’s no different than someone sharing a screenshot of the National Highway Traffic Safety Association on Facebook saying wearing seatbelts can be harmful to your health. Sure, not everybody will take it seriously, but those who do are putting the lives of themselves and others in danger. It also plays into the hands of numerous scammers using official CDC and WHO letterhead to spread phishing scams by email. Tap or click here to see the COVID-19 scams you need to know about. So what can you do to spot hoaxes like this in the future? It’s simple: If you see a post claiming to be from health officials, a government organization or other mainstream publication about COVID-19 that doesn’t add up, check that source’s official website to make sure it’s real. It can be difficult to weed out the rumors and myths from COVID-19 news, but that’s why we’re here to deliver advice and stories you can trust every day. Tap or click here to see some of the top COVID-19 myths debunked. The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.