It’s a good idea to wear cloth face coverings in public to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, but it’s important to do so properly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that people wear cloth face coverings in public places such as the grocery store or pharmacy where social distancing is difficult. The goal is to limit transmission of the disease by people who may have the virus and do not know it.
The COVID-19 coronavirus is thought to spread mainly through respiratory droplets emitted when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Cloth face coverings act as a physical barrier to trap those droplets and help prevent people who may have the virus and do not know it from infecting others.
“While cloth face coverings add a layer of protection while you’re out in public, they are not a substitute to social distancing, handwashing or staying at home,” says Angela Harris, infection control manager for Tidelands Health. “Don’t let wearing a cloth face covering give you a false sense of security.”
To keep yourself and others safe, health experts say it’s important to wear cloth face coverings properly.
- Closely follow the CDC’s instructions for making a cloth face covering. Coverings made from household items such bandanas, T-shirts, scarves and towels can be easily repurposed. Tightly woven cotton fabrics work best.
- Wash your hands thoroughly immediately before and after using the face covering.
- Routinely wash the homemade cloth face covering in the washing machine. Daily washing is recommended.
- Make sure to cover both the nose and mouth while using the covering.
- Be certain the cloth face covering fits comfortably to avoid having to adjust it using your hands while you’re out in public.
- Wear glasses in addition to the cloth face covering to protect your eyes.
- Don’t use face coverings on children under the age of 2 or on anyone who has trouble breathing or is unable to remove the covering independently.
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth after removing the cloth face covering. Thoroughly wash your hands immediately before and after putting it on.
- Don’t touch the inside or front of the cloth face covering when applying or removing the covering. Use the ties or bands for application and removal.
- Don’t reuse a cloth face covering without first laundering it. Avoid using a cloth face covering that has a hole or fits poorly.
- Don’t share a cloth face covering with another person. Keep your cloth face covering for your own use.
- Don’t leave a dirty cloth face covering laying around where it can be easily touched.
- Don’t use medical facemask, such as an N95 respirator, which should be reserved for health care workers and first responders.