Travel to the grocery store, pharmacy and other places, and you’ll see people wearing a variety of different face coverings. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending people wear cloth face coverings in public places where social distancing is difficult. In some places, including all 60-plus Tidelands Health care locations, wearing a face covering or mask is required to help limit the spread of COVID-19. At Tidelands Health, it’s part of the not-for-profit organization’s “Safe in Our Care” commitment, a series of extra precautions put in place to protect patients and reassure them it’s safe to get the medical care they need.
But what qualifies as an acceptable face covering or mask? “Cloth face coverings can be made easily with common household items,” says Dr. Gerald Harmon, vice president of medical affairs for Tidelands Health. “The goal is 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. “By wearing a face covering, you are protecting others. Likewise, when other people wear one, they are protecting you.”
The ‘Safe in Our Care’commitment
Tidelands Health has implemented extra precautions to keep you safe while you get the medical care you need. Learn more about the health system’s “Safe in Our Care” commitment byclicking here.
Acceptable face coverings can be made using T-shirts, bandanas and other tightly woven materials – preferably cotton. Though you can sew your own if you have the equipment and skills, face coverings can also be made without any sewing necessary. For instructions, click here. If you are planning to visit a Tidelands Health location, remember to bring your face covering or mask with you. If you don’t have a face covering, the health system will supply one before you enter the building, but you are strongly encouraged to bring your own to help the health system conserve its supply.
Avoid purchasing disposable surgical masks or N-95 respirators as they’re critical supplies for health care workers and first responders on the front lines of the pandemic. But if you already have one of those on hand, it’s acceptable to use.
How you wear your cloth face covering is also very important, says Dr. Harmon. “An effective face covering should fit snugly and securely,” he says. “It should also allow for unrestricted breathing — otherwise you’ll be tempted to remove it.”
Make sure to wash your face covering regularly or, if you are using a disposable one, dispose of it after use. If a reusable mask stretches, shrinks, develops a hole or gets misshapen during washing, it’s no longer fit for use. “It’s important that we all take steps to protect ourselves, our loved ones and those around us from COVID-19,” Dr. Harmon says. “By wearing face coverings when social distancing is difficult, we can make a big difference limiting the spread of the disease.”