As states across the country begin to loosen their restrictions on local businesses, Atrium Health experts urge the public to continue maintaining recommended safety precautions, such as wearing a face mask, to help keep you, your loved ones and the rest of the community safe – even when it doesn’t feel necessary.

Coronavirus Updates, Your Health | one month ago

The Importance of Wearing a Face Mask, Even When it Doesn’t Feel Necessary

As states across the country begin to loosen their restrictions on local businesses, Atrium Health experts urge the public to continue maintaining recommended safety precautions, such as wearing a face mask, to help keep you, your loved ones and the rest of the community safe – even when it doesn’t feel necessary.

As summer kicks off and restaurants, breweries, churches and other organizations and businesses are starting to reopen as part of your state’s COVID-19 re-entry plan, many people are easing back into recreational activities. But as we see cases of COVID-19 continuing to spike, precautionary measures against the virus — such as wearing a face mask  are critical to maintain 

Atrium Health experts warn that despite eased restrictions, it is still necessary to be vigilant about wearing a mask to protect yourself from the virus and prevent further spread in our community, even in situations where it may feel as though the risk of exposure is low. In fact, the state of North Carolina and several other “hot spot” areas are requiring everyone who is able to wear face covering in public places where social distancing isn’t possible 

But what does this mean exactly and how are we able to safely able to visit local businesses and attend small social gatherings?  

Always err on the side of caution 

By now, most people know it is best practice to avoid crowded indoor spaces and to keep indoor gatherings below 10 people and outdoor gatherings below 25 people, in order to adhere to the state of North Carolina and CDC guidelines in place for social distancing. But there are many unlikely scenarios in which people are still at a high risk of being exposed to COVID-19, although it may feel safe at the time. 

Some examples of these scenarios are eating outside at a restaurant or brewery, going to a small religious gathering, or even visiting close family members.   

“It is not always possible to maintain social distancing, even when outdoors, and masks should be worn even when outside in group settings” says Stephanie Strollo, MDinfectious disease physician at Atrium Health Cabarrus. “Masks should also be worn when around people who do not live in the same house as you. When visiting close relatives or friends who live in another house/apartment, masks should be worn to minimize risk of spread of infection.” 

While it may feel safe to have small gatherings or even go out to eat in an outdoor setting, these situations still carry risk. This is why wearing a mask is so important – regardless of whether people are indoors or out.  

“COVID-19 spreads mainly by close contact, and masking provides source control so droplets are prevented from spreading to other people when someone talks, sneezes or coughs” says Dr. Strollo.  

Staying vigilant despite summer activities  

For many families, summertime also often means reunions, celebrations and family vacationsFor those who have decided to carry on with regularly scheduled gatherings this year, it is important to take the necessary precautions to protect the ones you love.  

Although most individuals who contract COVID-19 have mild symptoms, other folks are at higher risk for severe complications,” says Carmen Teague, MD, specialty medical director of internal medicine at  Atrium Health Mecklenburg Medical Group - Uptown. “These individuals include older folks, like grandparents, and folks with underlying medical and lung conditions. Even with family gatherings, we encourage patients to wear masks and practice social distancing.”  

Regardless of how safe these activities may feel, dining outside at a restaurant, going to a brewery, visiting close family members and even going to church still carry a risk for exposure to COVID-19. But by simply wearing a face mask, you can help minimize that risk and help protect both yourself and the larger community. 


Atrium Health is committed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and has partnered with other local businesses to donate 2 million face masks to the community. To receive a free mask, visit AtriumHealth.org/FreeMasks to find a pick-up location near you. 

Learn more about which type of face mask is right for you and when to wear it.