The CDC rolled out new recommendations about masks to address COVID-19.
And those are?
That Americans should cover their faces when going out. Before we get into that, let’s take it back a couple of months. In January, the CDC said face masks should be reserved for health care workers, those who are sick, and those caring for someone who is sick. In February, the US surgeon general urged the public to stop buying face masks because it would lead to a shortage for health care workers on the front lines. Now, the CDC is advising Americans to use cloth face coverings like homemade masks, bandannas, or scarves in public settings (think: grocery stores, pharmacies).
Why the sudden change?
Because of recent research about the virus and how it’s transmitted. Reminder: the virus can spread through respiratory droplets by coughing, sneezing, or even talking in close proximity to someone. Recently, the CDC director said 25% of infected people may not show symptoms but can still transmit the virus.
So what can I do?
The CDC is asking Americans not to buy surgical masks or N95 respirators – which may be most effective against transmitting droplets – to reserve them for health care workers and first responders. Instead, they are recommending you bring out the needle and thread and learn how to make your own face mask using household materials. Tutorials can also be found here and here. Note: some tests found that 100% “quilters cotton” fabric is better than t-shirt cotton at filtering small particles.
You’re welcome. But remember that wearing a face mask isn’t the only thing you should be doing to protect yourself or others from the virus. While some experts say that homemade masks work to prevent droplets from going into the air, others cautioned that masks could provide a false sense of security. And could lead to fewer people following social distancing guidelines. So one more time for the people at the park: stay home. And if you must leave your house, cover your face and stay six feet away from other people. Oh, and wash your hands.
The American public has been receiving differing information on how to help curb the coronavirus spread. And the mixed messages between the White House and the CDC have not helped. However, in the meantime, we can still do our part and take care of each other by following the guidelines.
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