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 during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there is conflicting information about the need for masks. Maintaining social distancing of 6 feet and good hygiene are recommended by most.
Here’s what the experts have to say:
From the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases:
The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person (within about 6 feet). It can be spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms, which is why face masks are recommended.
What can individuals do to protect themselves?
Everyone should practice the following healthy habits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and other respiratory viruses:
• Stay home as advised by state and local public health officials
• Wear a cloth face covering if you do go out
• Practice social distancing—stay at least 6 feet apart
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
• Cover coughs and sneezes
• Clean and disinfect common objects and surfaces daily
• If you need medical care, call first
From the Centers for Disease Control
A cloth face covering may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others.
CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, like, grocery stores and pharmacies.
Simple cloth face coverings can be made at home and may help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
If you are sick: You should wear a face mask, if available, when you are around other people (including before you enter a health care provider’s office). If you are caring for others: If the person who is sick is not able to wear a face mask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then as their caregiver, you should wear a face mask when in the same room with them. Visitors, other than caregivers, are not recommended.
CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. 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. 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.
It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.
From the World Health Organization
If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with COVID-19.
Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.
If you do not have any respiratory symptoms such as fever cough or runny nose you do not need to wear a medical mask. Masks alone can give you a false feeling of protection and can even be a source of infection when not used correctly.
If you have cough, fever and difficulty breathing, you should wear a mask and seek medical care. If you do not have these symptoms, you do not have to wear masks because there is no evidence that they protect people who are not sick.
However, if you are healthy but you are taking care of a person who may be infected with the new Coronavirus, then you should wear a mask whenever you are in the same room with that person. And remember if you choose to wear a mask, use it and discard of it properly.
From U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams
(On Twitter, May 27) Today we passed 100,000 U.S. lives lost to #COVID19. Each life lost is a tragedy, and this is certainly a somber milestone.
Please help slow the spread with w/good hand hygiene, physical distancing, and choosing to wear a face covering in public.
(On Twitter, May 28) Are you wearing your cloth face covering correctly? Check out these @CDCgov tips on how to safely wear and remove your cloth face covering: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/cloth-face-covering.pdf
Tips on the link include:
Use the face covering to help protect others
• Wear a face covering to help protect others in case you’re infected but don’t have symptoms
• Keep the covering on your face the entire time you’re in public
• Don’t put the covering around your neck or up on your forehead
• Don’t touch the face covering, and, if you do, clean your hands
From the #Masks4All movement
100+ countries and 12+ U.S. States have already made cloth masks required in public because they limit the spread of COVID-19.
The leading disease experts and governments representing 95% of the world’s population (including the U.S. CDC) agree with the science and require/recommend masks because cloth (non-medical) masks are shown to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“My mask protects you, your mask protects me.”
Spreading COVID-19 is not a right.
Anyone not wearing a cloth mask in public puts everyone at risk of getting infected and they hurt our economy by increasing the chances of a second lockdown.
Why? The U.S. CDC and most experts agree that many infected and contagious people don’t know they’re sick because they don’t have symptoms.
Wearing a mask significantly reduces the chances of spreading COVID-19 from you to others.
From the Washington Post
There are “34 scientific papers indicating basic masks can be effective in reducing virus transmission in public — and not a single paper that shows clear evidence that they cannot.” A link to the papers is at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HLrm0pqBN_5bdyysOeoOBX4pt4oFDBhsC_jpblXpNtQ/edit#heading=h.9yzpxufkt5ow