Face masks that you make at home or buy online are quickly becoming commonplace, as the belief that non medical face coverings provide a degree of protection against acquiring the corona virus grows. Covering your face and mouth in public places is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In some cities and states, wearing a face mask in public places is even mandatory.
There’s also data that there may be some benefit to wearing a homemade mask in crowded places like the supermarket, versus no face covering at all. Social distancing and hand washing are still paramount Homemade masks may help protect others from you. According to the American Lung Association, one in four people infected with COVID-19 might show mild symptoms or none at all. Using a cloth face covering when you’re around others can help block large particles that you might eject through a cough, sneeze or unintentionally launched saliva (e.g., through speaking), which could slow the spread of transmission to others if you don’t know you’re sick.
Why urge homemade, non medical face masks now?
For months, the CDC recommended medical-grade face masks for people who were presumed to be or confirmed to be ill with COVID-19, as well as for medical care workers. But spiking cases across the US and especially in hotspots like New York, Rhode Island, Michigan, Louisiana and Arizona have proven that current measures haven’t been strong enough to flatten the curve. There are concerns that masks may give a false sense of security, as they do not block all particles, and leave the eyes uncovered and open to infection.
When corona virus emerged in China, people across much of the region were quick to start wearing some form of face mask when they went out in public. Memories of the Sars epidemic were still strong, and there is a cultural tradition of wearing masks to protect oneself and others.
But as the corona virus crisis drags on, and governments look for ways out of economically devastating lock downs, they are unlikely to vanish any time soon. Here are how different countries have regulated mask supplies and mask-wearing as they battle corona virus.
Frontal view of an individual wearing a cloth face covering. Individual is using two fingers to point to either side of the top of the nose, indicating that the covering fits well in this area.
Should cloth face coverings be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly? How regularly?
Yes. They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.