Masking for a friend

Published August 26, 2020

Published

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated masking guidelines since this was written. Get the latest information

Watch this video PSA about helping your neighbors and doing your part during COVID-19. Nebraskans are good neighbors. Spread the love (not the coronavirus) and mask up.

We get a lot of questions about whether these people can wear masks: people with asthma or allergies, young kids and people with developmental conditions. 

Asthma and allergies

Wearing a mask may help people with asthma, according to infectious diseases expert Mark Rupp, MD. "In fact, for some people with asthma it may be beneficial in that it helps to filter out some of the pollen, and dust, and things like that," says Dr. Rupp, adding the exception is someone who is having an asthma attack. "A well-controlled asthmatic that's not acutely having an asthma attack, it shouldn't be a problem."

Some people with allergies have found it's actually easier to breathe while wearing a mask. Masks filter pollen out of your nose and mouth and keep other environmental irritants away.

Children

What about younger children? Kids over the age of 3 can wear masks without worry. Two-year-olds and below tend to play with them or take them off. The Omaha mask mandate applies to ages 5 and older.

COVID-19 researcher John Lowe, PhD, says, "I was a mask skeptic for children, but my 4-year-old proved me wrong. With very little coaching, she wears a mask in public very well.

Developmental conditions

The Omaha mask mandate has an important exception: people who "cannot otherwise wear a face covering because of a medical condition, a mental health condition or a disability that makes it unreasonable for the individual to wear a face covering."

While covering back-to-school questions, Dr. Lowe says, "Some kids – especially kids with sensory or behavioral conditions – may have problems wearing a mask. Clear face shields can help these kids communicate while protecting others. Face shields aren't as effective as masks, but they will block some droplets."