The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its prevention protocol regarding the spread of COVID-19 to recommend the public start wearing cloth face masks in situations where social distancing is difficult, like in grocery stores or pharmacies, and areas that have high numbers of community-based transmission of the virus.
The CDC says this is because even those who are exhibiting no symptoms of the coronavirus can spread the disease. The goal is to stop the transmission of droplets. Even though this seems to go against previous recommendations, the CDC says the wearing of masks is a "complement" to and not a replacement for the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America, 30 Days to Slow the Spread.
"We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms ('asymptomatic') and that even those who eventually develop symptoms ('pre-symptomatic') can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms," says the CDC. "This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity — for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms."
The Ohio Department of Health says it strongly agrees with this recommendation, but also wants to make clear that wearing a cloth face mask is not a substitution for social distancing. And that these masks should be cloth face masks and not the personal protective equipment/N95 respirators reserved for health care workers, first responders and others on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.
These DIY face coverings can be made of, according to the health department, any tightly woven fabric, like quilting fabric.
The CDC has directions for creating masks out of a T-shirt — or a bandana, a coffee filter and rubber bands or hair ties that does not require a sewing machine. They also have a tutorial for how to make a mask using cotton sheets, quilting fabric or a T-shirt if you do have a sewing machine.
There's also this no-sew video from the U.S. Surgeon General.
Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton has made this checklist for people to use regarding the use of cloth face masks.
- Use coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and public parks.
Maintain 6-feet social distancing whenever possible, even if you are wearing a face covering.
- DO NOT place cloth face coverings on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- DO NOT use medical supply masks, which must be reserved for healthcare workers, first responders, and people who are known to be sick.
- Make cloth face coverings from household items or common materials. Use multiple layers of a fabric that does not damage or lose shape when laundered or machine dried.
- Support small businesses selling fabric masks at a reasonable price, but watch out for scammers offering high-priced or so-called superior masks.
Use coverings that fit snugly but comfortably and allow for breathing without restriction. Secure with ties or ear loops.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing the face covering and wash your hands immediately after removing.
- Launder coverings after each use. Avoid wearing when wet from laundering or from spit or mucus.