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More people wearing face masks since COVID-19 outbreak

Many are donning the cloth surgical masks in the hopes of protecting themselves from becoming infected with COVID-19.

SAN DIEGO — It’s becoming the fashion trend many weren’t expecting: Face masks worn in public.

Dr. Randy Taplitz, the clinical director of infection prevention at UC San Diego Health said, “the masks are not going to help you when you're walking down the street.”

But that’s not stopping many from donning the cloth surgical masks in the hopes of protecting themselves from becoming infected with COVID-19.

"It is not necessary when someone is walking down the street to be wearing a mask, though the use of masks are very important in the healthcare setting,” Taplitz said.

The coronavirus can spread between people who are in close contact -- about six feet from each other. This mainly happens through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes -- similar to the flu. 

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But in Kearny Mesa at Jasmine Seafood Restaurant, food servers can be seen wearing face masks.

"It’s the first time we have started to use the masks in San Diego as one more security measure to make sure that we are safe from the coronavirus,” said Dr. Allen Chan – the owner, Jasmine Restaurant

The popular Chinese restaurant also set up sanitizer units on the wall as an extra health precaution.

"I don't think it should be required, I think it should be a personal choice, but I hear the masks can help,” said restaurant customer Liza Galon.

From surgical masks to different colored masks - all are in high demand and more are being made daily though they're only recommended for medical professionals. The heavy-duty N-95 Respirator mask blocks out at least 95% of small airborne particles.

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"I feel like students wore masks even before the coronavirus like for the flu, and some students are opting to stay home,” said Alexandra D'amico, a fourth-year student at UC San Diego majoring in business psychology.

At UCSD, very few students were spotted wearing masks on campus as a protective measure from COVID-19. Some wore them to ward off pollen.

“I went to the student health center, and they told me I have allergies so that's why I started to wear masks,” said Julie, a freshman at UCSD.

But none may have worn the masks better than the recently released quarantined group who tossed their masks in the sky outside March Air Reserve Base.

Dr. Taplitz also said there is a limited supply of personal protective equipment, and she stressed not to use masks when they're not absolutely necessary to be used.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story pointed out that the coronavirus is not airborne. However, the coronavirus can spread between people who are in close contact -- about six feet from each other. This mainly happens through respiratory droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes -- similar to the flu.