County health officials from the tri-county area echoed the advice meted out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late last week, which encouraged people to begin wearing cloth masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The health departments recommended people start wearing masks right away.
- James Gathany - CDC Public Health Image library
- Capturing a sneeze in progress, demonstrating "the plume of salivary droplets as they are expelled in a large cone-shaped array from this man’s open mouth," according to the CDC.
The idea is that having a physical barrier between the droplets that may come out of people's mouths is better than nothing—but health officials underlined that people should not be running out to procure N-95 or surgical masks, needed desperately by workers treating COVID-19 patients.
Among the reasons for wearing masks, the health departments outlined these:
-Droplets do transmit the disease, but they can be generated from talking as well as coughing. Just standing next to someone talking could spread the disease if neither party is masked.
-DIY masks can possibly provide protection to the public without impacting the supply of manufactured masks currently prioritized for healthcare workers.
-There is data that suggests that in countries where masking is encouraged for all citizens, the rate of disease transmission may be reduced by their actions.
-Wearing a mask while sick is stigmatizing for those who wear them. Universal use wouldn’t identify who was sick and who wasn’t.
People should wash their masks frequently in hot water and dried on the hot cycle.
Mask design options abound on the internet but county health officials recommend:
-Use mask material that is tightly woven but breathable.
-Possibly double-layer the fabric.
-Masks can be made from washable material such as fabric from a clean t-shirt or bandana.
The CDC has a number of non-sew as well as sewable mask instructions on its Cloth Face Covers page, including how to make one from a t-shirt or hankerchief.
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