How and when to cover your face to slow the spread of COVID-19
For weeks people have been asking, “Should I wear a face mask in public?” In short, the answer is YES.
Staying at home and limiting contact to only people in our household is best. But at some point, many of us will need to go to the grocery store, or the pharmacy, or to our jobs if we work at one of the identified essential businesses. How do you stay healthy and keep others safe when you need to venture out into the world to meet you or your family’s essential needs?
The CDC and Skagit County’s Health Officer are now recommending we wear face masks or coverings in public for any group gathering, including workplaces. This will be a key tool in preventing the spread of infection from COVID-19.
Wearing a mask/covering does not mean you should go about your life as before. To stay safe for yourself and others you still need to:
- Maintain good social distancing practices – 6-feet of physical distance from non-household members, and
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water (best) or with alcohol-based hand sanitizer (good second choice when soap and water aren’t available) , and
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Never touch your face with dirty hands.
Wearing cloth face coverings will not prevent spread of COVID-19 without these other protective measures.
Recent studies show that many people with COVID-19 transmit the virus even when they are not showing any symptoms. This means people who don’t feel sick or look sick can spread COVID-19 through speaking, coughing, or sneezing. In light of this new evidence, the CDC and Skagit County Public Health concluded face masks or coverings are necessary to the Skagit community’s health.
Cloth Face Coverings vs N-95 Respirators
Cloth face coverings made from household items and common materials at low cost is recommended. Do It Yourself (DYI) cloth face coverings are also called “face masks”.
The CDC is not recommending N-95 respirators for the general public – these are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.
Cloth Face Coverings 101
Don’t have a face covering? Check out these options – even if you don’t sew, there are effective options for everyone.
- CDC: Sew and No Sew Instructions
- New York Times: How to Sew a Face Mask – A tutorial on how to make your own fabric face mask from common household materials
- US Surgeon General’s No Sew Directions: Video Instructions
How to safely wear your new cloth face covering.
The CDC notes that cloth face coverings should:
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
- Be secured with ties or ear loops.
- Include multiple layers of fabric.
- Allow for breathing without restriction.
- Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.
- Continue to follow “stay home, stay safe” orders
- Continue to practice appropriate social distancing.
- Practice good hand washing hygiene.
- Wear your new cloth face covering in public places.