When out in public, everyone should wear a cloth mask or wrapped scarf that fully covers the mouth and nose, says the CDC.
The reason for cloth masks or coverings is to help slow the spread of the coronavirus by keeping virus-carrying droplets from traveling through the air. This new official recommendation is in addition to the social distancing measures that everyone should be following.
The CDC strongly emphasizes that people should not use surgical masks and N95 respirators. Those masks should be saved for healthcare workers and first responders.
With an incubation period of up to two weeks, people who have the virus but don’t know it are out and about. Masks and coverings help prevent infected people from spreading the virus unknowingly if they cough, sneeze, or even talk closely to someone. This is particularly important in areas where there is a significant amount of community-based virus transmission.
How Can I Get a Cloth Mask?
Cloth masks and coverings can be made at home using a tightly-woven cotton cloth like a tea towel or by folding a thinner cloth such as a bandanna to make it thicker. The CDC has posted how-to instructions in English and Spanish. A number of hospitals and newspapers have also published patterns that you can use for masks or wrappings.
- Deaconess Hospital (Indiana)
- Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Tennessee)
- The New York Times
- USA Today
So put your masks on, for everyone’s protection.