Health experts are bumping up protective measures in the fight against COVID-19. New recommendations released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that people should wear cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures may be difficult to maintain, like grocery stores or pharmacies.
Recent studies (here, here, and here, to name a few) show that a number of people who are infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, are asymptomatic and can transmit the virus before showing symptoms. The novel coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets that infect a person when inhaled or when a person comes into contact with contaminated surfaces and then touches their face.
US Surgeon General urged Americans to stop buying facemasks, warning that they were largely ineffective adding that healthcare workers need them to care for sick patients. The World Health Organization echoed these sentiments today, telling the public not to buy medical-grade face masks, adding that “shortages are putting health workers in real danger.” Experts are reminding the public that surgical and respirator masks should be left for healthcare providers.
“The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance,” notes the CDC.
Although the masks do not replace 2-meter (6-feet) physical distancing measures (or the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America), the agency says that simple cloth face coverings will slow the spread of the virus and help people from transmitting it.
“Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure,” adds the CDC.
Some quick warnings: the face masks should not be placed on children under the age of two, anyone having difficulty breathing, or those who might be unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without help. Face masks should be regularly washed using a washing machine. As a reminder, people should not touch their eyes, nose, or mouth when removing the face mask and need to wash their hands immediately after removing it.
The following tutorials were released by the government for people to fashion their own masks at home.
Sew Your Own Cloth Mask At Home
What you’ll need:
- Two 25- by 15-centimeter (10- by 6-inch) rectangles of tightly woven cotton. T-shirt fabric will work in a pinch.
- Two 15-centimeter (6-inch) pieces of elastic or rubber bands, string, cloth strips, or hair ties.
- Needle and thread or a bobby pin
- Sewing machine or kit
Here’s how to make it:
- 1. Stack the two rectangles on top of one another. The mask will be sewn as if these two layers were a single piece of fabric.
- 2. Fold the long sides over one-quarter of an inch and hem. Next, fold the short sides over half an inch and stitch down, making an open hemline.
- 3. Run a 15-centimeter (6-inch) length of elastic through the hem made on each side of the mask and tie the ends tightly. These are your ear loops!
- 4. Lastly, pull on the elastic so that the knots are tucked inside of the hem. Gather the sides of the mask and adjust to fit your face before stitching the elastic in place.
- Use An Old T-Shirt: The No-Sew Method
- You’ll need a T-shirt and scissors. Follow the pictorial below.
Bandana Face Covering: The No-Sew Method
You’ll need a bandana or square cloth that measures about 60-by-60 centimeters (20-by-20 inches), a coffee filter, rubber bands or hair ties, and scissors. Follow the pictorial below.