Twitter Users Mock CDC Safety Poster About Beards and Face Masks

In the wake of the coronavirus, a CDC guide for facial hair and styles that may render a face mask useless began making the rounds on social media.

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As previously reported by Newsweek, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that the U.S. need nearly 300 million face masks, but according to the CDC infographic from 2017, bearded folks may need to shave off their facial hair lest the face masks be rendered useless.

According to the CDC's blog, because beards don't filter out particles, gases, and vapors and hair isn't dense enough to keep tiny particles from passing through, even stubble puts individuals at risk more than a clean-shaven person. The chart shows the area that an N-95 face mask will cover on a person and where a beard or mustache may interfere.

The chart shows 36 classic facial hair stylings and says which are more likely to render a respirator defective. For example, ducktail beards, chin curtains, and long stubble are all included in facial hair that may easily poke out of a face mask. Meanwhile, soul patches, pencil 'staches, and handlebar mustaches are all okay. It also warns that some styles may cross the seal if not monitored properly, like a goatee, the "villain," horseshoe mustache, and anchor. The CDC also assigned names to each, referencing famous wearers of the stylings like the Zappa, Van Dyke, and Dali, which are all no's.

Salvador Dali
Spanish Catalan surrealist painter Salvador Dali photographed in Barcelona on May 24, 1966, around about the time he produced the etching "Burning Giraffe." Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

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On Twitter, the mask stirred up more questions about the names of each style than the potential risks posed. One man even said that the CDC helped him realize that he'd been wrong about the type of beard he had for years.

People also couldn't help pointing out that the "toothbrush" style mustache, which has the CDC's safety stamp of approval, bares resemblance to the mustache that Adolf Hitler wore in Nazi Germany. One person tweeted that if you instead use the chart as a guide for facial hair names, he would also change the toothbrush mustache to a "no," even though it doesn't interfere with the mask.

Other people embraced the CDC's acceptable list, with some Twitter users writing that they were going to grow soul patches.

Despite the chart, the CDC does not recommend routinely wearing a respirator outside of workplace settings. To prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, the CDC recommends avoiding sick people, not touching your eyes or nose, and covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue.

face mask
An Algerian medic adjsuts his protective mask in front of El-Kettar hospital's special unit to treat cases of novel coronavirus in the capital Algiers on February 26, 2020. The CDC guide shows that even just a little stubble may render face masks useless in preventing particles from entering. RYAD KRAMDI/AFP/Getty
Twitter Users Mock CDC Safety Poster About Beards and Face Masks | News