July 7, 2020

Should I Wear a Face Mask in the Car?

The short answer from a hospital medicine specialist

wearing face masks in car

Q: I’ve seen some people wearing masks in the car during the coronavirus pandemic. Is this necessary, and should I be doing it?

A: If you’re by yourself in your car, or with someone in your household, that’s a pretty low-risk situation and you don’t need to wear a cloth face mask.

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However, there are a few scenarios in which wearing a mask in the car does make sense to help protect others during the coronavirus pandemic. One would be if you’re carpooling with someone who doesn’t live with you. That includes if you’re in a ride-sharing vehicle. I would avoid this to the extent that is possible. But if you can’t, you should wear a mask since you can’t keep a safe physical distance from someone in that case.

You should also wear one if you’re rolling down your window to interact with someone at a drive-thru or curbside pickup location.

If you’re a delivery worker or are making several stops during one trip, it’s reasonable to keep your mask on in the car between stops. That would prevent you from repeatedly touching your mask, which could have germs on it, by taking it off and putting it back on each time you get out of the car.

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If you are wearing a mask in the car, you want to make sure it’s on correctly. It should cover your nose and mouth but not your eyes, and it should not obstruct your vision.

Aaron Hamilton, MD, MBA

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