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CDC Issues Warning on Coronavirus, Facial Hair

Villain mustaches and soul patches are OK; stubble, full beards may interfere with respirator
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2020 2:13 PM CST

(Newser) – Patients' facial hair may affect their safety when it comes to the coronavirus—but it depends on what kind of mustache, beard, or other whiskers you're sporting. CNN reports on a warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that centers on how much various types of facial hair interfere (or not) with face respirators, which are being used along with masks to keep COVID-19 (the official name for coronavirus) from spreading. The CDC has put together an infographic that shows if the hair on one's chin, cheeks, neck, and upper lip breaks the "respirator sealing surface"—a teardrop-shaped area surrounding the nose and mouth. (The CDC doesn't recommend the routine use of masks outside the workplace.)

If the facial hair does transgress that sealing border in any way, the exhalation valve on face-adhering respirators may not work properly if the hair comes into contact with it. That means styles including soul patches, side whiskers, and neatly kept Zorro, Zappa, and walrus mustaches are all OK; mutton chops, stubble, full beards, and Fu Manchu and villain mustaches are risky. Goatees are right on the cusp—they're OK if kept within the border in the chin area, not if they cross it. A clean-shaven face is obviously completely in the clear and respirator-ready. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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