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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke July 9, 2020

Photo of discharge paperwork shows outdated recommendations

If Your Time is short

  • A photo of discharge paperwork from the Beaumont Emergency Center in Texas says that the CDC does not recommend healthy people wear face masks, but that advice is outdated and the emergency center says it has corrected it.
  • The CDC does generally recommend healthy people wear face masks.

A Facebook user who recently shared what he described as his discharge papers after getting a COVID-19 test in Beaumont, Texas, has caused confusion over face mask recommendations, and fairly so. 

"Paperwork from my negative test today, Beaumont Emergency center," he wrote alongside a photo of a document dated June 23. Circled on the paper is this sentence: "CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19."

Others on social media have shared the post and added their own commentary. 

"For those obviously deaf and blind mask shamers: The WHO and CDC do NOT recommend that healthy people wear masks," one woman wrote.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

We reached out to Beaumont Emergency Center about the photo of the paperwork and a spokesperson responded with a statement that it also posted to its Facebook page on June 29, when it became aware someone had shared images of its discharge documentation.

The statement said that some patients had mistakenly received outdated instructions. 

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"Beaumont Emergency Center stands by local agency, county and state government recommendations for the wearing of masks for the safety of our citizens and patients," the statement says. "WEAR A MASK, WHETHER TESTING NEGATIVE OR POSITIVE, TO HELP REDUCE THE POTENTIAL EXPOSURE TO THE CORONAVIRUS. We regret that due to a late computer update that some of our patients received erroneous discharge instructions. We have taken measures to correct and update these instructions and to inform patients of the updated instructions."

We have previously reported that though the CDC once did not advise healthy people to wear face masks, the federal agency revised its recommendations in April. Now nearly everyone should wear a mask in public, under the new guidelines. The CDC says people should "wear a cloth face mask covering their nose and mouth in community settings," especially in areas of widespread COVID-19 illness. 

The World Health Organization has a slightly different view on masks. It recommends health workers, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and anyone caring for someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 should wear medical masks. 

But WHO says it doesn’t recommend masks for "widespread use among the public for control of COVID-19." Still, in areas of widespread transmission and when people can’t stay more than 3 feet away from each other, "WHO advises governments to encourage the general public to use non-medical fabric masks."

Our ruling

Sharing an authentic picture of outdated discharge instructions concerning face masks, the Facebook post claims WHO and CDC don’t recommend that healthy people wear masks. That’s not true. The CDC does recommend healthy people wear masks, and while WHO doesn’t recommend their widespread use to control COVID-19, it suggests healthy people should wear them in some situations. 

We rate this post Mostly False.


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Photo of discharge paperwork shows outdated recommendations

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