Coronavirus Resources

Wearing Face Masks to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus

A woman wearing a mask outside.
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Weeks ago, when researchers were first sharing more information on coronavirus as it started, it was thought that coronavirus spread through an infected person in close contact with others who is coughing or sneezing.

This is still true, but now as we begin to discover more about this disease, we’re learning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that “a significant portion of the general public with coronavirus lack symptoms (‘asymptomatic’) and even those who eventually develop symptoms (‘pre-symptomatic’) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.”

How Does Coronavirus Spread?

It is thought that coronavirus is transmitted mainly from person-to-person when those people are within 6 feet of each other, and primarily through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.

We now know that coronavirus can be spread even more easily than originally thought, even if the people near one another are not experiencing coronavirus symptoms. So, if you were to walk out into your yard and chat with your neighbor (within about 6 feet of each other), even though neither of you may be coughing, sneezing, or feel sick, there is a chance the virus could be spread without either of you knowing it.

New Coronavirus Face Mask-Wearing Guidelines From the CDC

With this knowledge in mind, mask-wearing guidelines have changed. With this new evidence now available to us, the CDC website recommends “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” This would include taking a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy, but not necessarily while going for a solo walk to your mailbox.

We know that the social distancing guidelines (6 feet) are very important to stop the spread of coronavirus, but adding the additional measure of cloth face coverings can help slow the spread even further, especially in the cases of those who have the virus but aren’t experiencing symptoms.

How To Make Cloth Face Mask Coverings to Protect Against COVID-19

Cloth face masks can be made from household items, such as a coffee filter, bandana, T-shirt and elastics, like hair ties.

Make your own coronavirus face mask with a tutorial from the CDC. There are several suggestions for how to make masks, including both sewn and no-sew options, available from the CDC here.

It is important to note that although face coverings are now recommended to be worn whenever you’re in a community setting, especially where you may be near people, this does not include wearing surgical masks or N-95 respirators. It’s important that these medical supplies are reserved for health care workers and first responders, and not for everyday use by people who don’t work in these fields.

How to Wear and Care for Your Homemade Mask

When making your own cloth face mask, the CDC recommends that it should:

  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops
  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • Include multiple layers of fabric

Once you’ve created your own face covering, it should be washed regularly. Since we know COVID-19 can be spread on surfaces, including fabric, touching an infected countertop or other surface, and then the part of your mask that touches your nose or mouth, could spread the disease to you. Depending on how frequently you use it, wash your mask regularly in a washing machine.

Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth when removing your mask and wash your hands immediately after you’ve taken it off. While making these face coverings for you and your family members, please note that it is not recommended for masks to be placed on children younger than two or anyone who has trouble breathing.

Where to Find More Coronavirus Safety Information

At every stage of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re here to help you stay informed so you can feel empowered to take care of yourself and your family. To stay up to date on all coronavirus news and the latest guidelines, visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub.

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