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“The benefit in wearing the facemask, for the general public, is that hopefully now a sneeze or sniffle or whatever it is, doesn’t end up on their hands where they’re now going to touch a grocery cart, or a doorknob, or an elevator button,” said Erica Williams, Infection Prevention Director at Estes Park Health. “That is important since it’s possible someone might have COVID-19 and spread it before showing symptoms. And some who get it might not exhibit symptoms at all.” Williams shares, “If you’re going to wear a homemade mask, you cannot let your guard down for all the other hygiene practices we all need to be doing and those include frequent hand washing, not touching your face, not touching the front of your mask, staying home. And of course, you should avoid going out in public, and if you must go out, maintain a physical distance of at least a six feet of distance from other people even when masked.”

How to Wear a Cloth Face Covering

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.

CDC on Homemade Cloth Face Coverings

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social-distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e. g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. 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.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age two, on anyone who has trouble breathing, or on anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

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.

Questions and Answers Concerning Cloth Face Coverings from the CDC:

Why do you need to wear cloth face coverings?

In light of new data about how COVID-19 spreads, along with evidence of widespread COVID-19 illness in communities across the country, CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms.

What type of cloth face covering should be worn?

Cloth face coverings can be made from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost.

When do you need to wear a cloth face covering?

A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people are in a community setting, especially in situations where you may be near people. These settings include grocery stores and pharmacies. These face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. Cloth face coverings are especially important to wear in public in areas of widespread COVID-19 illness.

Do I still need to stay at least 6 feet away from people if wearing a cloth face covering?

Yes. Wearing cloth face coverings is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19. CDC still recommends that you stay at least 6 feet away from other people (social distancing), frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but it may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms. View CDC’s guidance on how to protect yourself.

How do I safely remove a used cloth face covering?

You should be careful not to touch eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering. You need to wash your hands immediately after removing your mask.

Should cloth face coverings be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly? How regularly?

Yes. They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.

How do I safely sterilize or clean a cloth face covering?

Use your washing machine to properly clean your mask/face covering.

Who should not wear cloth face coverings?

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children younger than two years of age, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.

Why is CDC recommending cloth face coverings instead of medical grade facemasks?

Surgical masks and N95 respirators are in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare workers or other medical first responders, as recommended by CDC guidance.

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