Fact Check: CDC Did NOT Recommend Men Shave Their Beards To Protect Against Coronavirus

Hoax Alert

  • by: Alan Duke
Fact Check: CDC Did NOT Recommend Men Shave Their Beards To Protect Against Coronavirus

Did the CDC recommend men shave their beards to protect against coronavirus? No, that's not true: The claim is based on a Centers for Disease Control chart created in 2017 to advise medical workers on the best practices for wearing "filtering facepiece respirators" during contact with viral patients. It was not intended for the general public - nor specifically for preventing the spread of coronavirus.

The claim originated in a story published by CNN - which was later corrected. But, it has been repeated in syndication by many other websites, including an article published by Sacremento, California's FOX 40 on February 26, 2020. The story titled "CDC recommends men shave their beards to protect against coronavirus" (archived here) opened:

When it comes to novel coronavirus safety, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests facial hair be kept to a minimum so it fits within a facepiece respirator.

Side whiskers, soul patches, lampshades and handlebar mustaches are good to go, according to a CDC infographic. But styles like a stubble, beard, Dali and mutton chops, are not recommended because they are likely to interfere with a facepiece respirator.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

CDC recommends men shave their beards to protect against coronavirus

(CNN) -- When it comes to novel coronavirus safety, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests facial hair be kept to a minimum so it fits within a facepiece respirator. Side whis...

While the story includes accurate information about how masks must be properly fitted to protect against the transmission of viruses, the headline was misleading. A reader might assume disease experts were suggesting that all men should shave their beards as a precaution against coronavirus. This CDC chart published in 2017 was for medical workers and was not a recommendation concerning coronavirus.

FacialHairWmask11282017-508 by Alan Duke on Scribd

CNN updated their story with this a new headline -- The CDC has thoughts about soul patches and mutton chops. And they have to do with using face masks --and a correction notice:

Correction: This story has been updated to clarify the CDC issued its guidance in 2017 for facepiece respirator use and is not specific to coronavirus.

Other fact checks by Lead Stories concerning coronavirus misinformation include:

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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