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After Virginia's mask mandate, pediatrician offers guidelines for children wearing them

Small kids are exempt from having to wear masks, but they're still encouraged to. CHKD weighed in on the situation for parents wondering about their safety.

NORFOLK, Va. — The mandate to wear face coverings or masks in public places is for Virginians aged 10 and up, but Governor Ralph Northam doesn't want small kids to be left out. 

"I strongly recommend that any child who is 3 years old or older should wear a face covering to the extent possible," he said during his press briefing Tuesday. 

In the CHKD blog Mask Safety for Children, Tidewater Children's Associates Pediatrician Dr. Glenda Karp wrote that cloth face coverings are not recommended for all children.

"If they're having trouble breathing, if they're unconscious, if having a face covering causes them to touch their face more frequently rather than less frequently and if they're unable to remove the face covering on their own, perhaps they shouldn't have a face covering," she said.

Karp also doesn't recommend any kid under three wear one because of a suffocation risk. 

People of all ages should keep certain safety precautions in mind when picking out a mask.  

"The face covering should be flushed to the skin so that the nose, mouth and chin are all covered," Karp said.

The best ones have ear loops or ties, multiple layers of fabric and allow breathing without restriction.

She said when we talk, laugh or sneeze, face coverings can stop germy droplet particles from traveling to a target about three to six feet away - but they don't replace good, old-fashioned hygiene measures like hand washing and not touching your face.

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