The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance that recommends that all people wear a cloth face covering in public places where it's difficult to keep six feet of distance from others at all times, such as a grocery store or pharmacy. Recent studies show some people with COVID-19 don’t show symptoms and others may transmit the virus before they show symptoms.
Simple cloth face coverings can help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings made from household items or common materials at low cost can be used as an additional public health measure. Bandanas, scarves and ski masks can be used. Patterns to sew your own masks can be found online.
- The general public should not be using N-95 respirators and medical masks. Those should be reserved for healthcare providers who are on the front lines working to protect us all. It is critically important that our healthcare workers have the equipment they need to do their jobs.
- If you have any medical-grade PPE to donate, we will gladly take them and distribute them.
- A face covering does not replace the stay home order. People must limit contact with people outside their immediate households. It does not replace the need for frequent handwashing. It is still important to avoid touching the face, and stay away from people who are ill.
When to wear a face covering
- The CDC recommends people wear a cloth face covering in public spaces where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain. This may help contain the spread when someone is asymptomatic or when symptoms are mild.
- Wearing a fabric mask when you are ill may help prevent the spread of infection to others. When worn properly, the face covering can help block infectious droplets from spreading when someone with the infection coughs, sneezes and, to a lesser degree, speaks.
- If you need hands-on health care and you are coughing, expect to be asked to put on a mask immediately and limit the number of people with you to no more than two adults who are well.
- If you are sick and coming to seek healthcare, wear a mask if you have one at home.
How to wear a face covering
- To be effective, a face covering needs to be worn properly so as not to contaminate the hands or face.
- Fabric masks should be changed when moist and washed with warm water and detergent after each use. Masks do not work well if they are soiled or damaged.
- Masks might be itchy. Be careful when adjusting it and avoid reaching under it to touch your nose or mouth. The virus can spread by unwashed hands.
How to make a mask or face covering
The CDC has tutorials on how to make a mask out of various materials, like a T-shirt.