The U.S. CDC On Cloth Face Masks
As the CDC continues to monitor the spread of covid-19 across the United States, the recommendation is for everyone wear simple cloth face coverings or simple fabric masks in public spaces mainly to slow the spread of the virus. Why?
- physical distancing measures are hard to maintain, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and other permissible businesses
- especially important in areas of significant community-based transmission
- densely populated towns and cities
- significant number of individuals with the novel coronavirus are asymptomatic or lack symptoms. There are individuals who eventually develop symptoms can transmit the virus to others before ever showing symptoms. What this means is the coronavirus can spread between people in close proximity through sneezing, coughing or talking.
Cloth face coverings or nonmedical masks are handmade or diy masks fashioned from common materials. Surgical or N-95 respirators should not be used by the public as these are in critical short supply and must be reserved for healthcare workers and first responders.
Who Should Wear A DIY Mask?
EVERYONE except children under 2 years old, anyone with breathing difficulties, is unconscious, incapacitated or unable to remove the masks without assistance.
Keep 4 Things In Mind
First, the main benefit to wearing a face mask is reducing the possibility of unknowingly passing covid-19 to others.
Second, maintain physical distancing or 6 feet between you and other people not in the same household. That is, wearing a face mask is not a substitute for maintaining physical distancing.
Third, avoid touching your face.
Fourth, practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If you do not have access to water, use hand sanitizer. Here’s a video on handwashing by the CDC
Picking A Good Reusable Mask
Consider these points when choosing an effective face mask:
Layers: Multiple layers of fabric are better than only one or two. More layers means less chance that viral particles will be able to pass through. Also, a middle removable non-woven filter insert such as facial tissue, HEPA filter, coffee filter makes the mask more effective in filtering out particles.
Liken multiple layers of fabric in a mask to the Swiss cheese model of multiple layers of Swiss cheese where the goal is to fill up the holes. The model is used in aviation, engineering and healthcare using LEAN principles to reduce and correct deficiencies in processes.
Fabric Choices: Consider different types of fabric for each layer of protection.
For the inner layer touching your face, choose a mask with a soft, washable, tightly knit fabric such as polyester with the other side laminated with a breathable waterproof barrier to avoid inhaling large respiratory droplets or other large molecules. Other fabrics choices for the most inner layer are nylon, or a spandex-cotton blend used in making athletic clothing. These fabrics wick away moisture.
For the outer layer, choose a tightly woven fabric, such as good quality quilting fabric, cotton shirting or high-thread-count bedsheet. The main goal is to choose a mask that is washable, resuable and tightly woven.
Ensure A Good Fit: According to the CDC, an effective face mask should fit snugly but comfortably on the sides of your face and should not interfere with breathing. There should be no gaps on the sides, top or bottom of the mask.
A good mask should fully cover your nose and mouth, extending an inch or more past the sides of your mouth and wrap under your chin.
Questions To Ask Yourself When Choosing A Mask
- How many layers does the mask have?
- Can you adjust or tighten the mask to the bridge of your nose?
- Can you adjust the ear loops so the perimeter of the mask is snug against your face?
- Does the bottom of the mask encase your entire chin or wrap under your chin?
- Does the mask extend beyond the sides of your mouth and by how much?
- Is the mask washable?
- CDC https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
- Davies, A. Thompson, K. Giri, K. Krafatos, G. Walker, J. Bennett, A. Testing The Efficacy of Homemade Masks: Would They Protect In An Influenza Pandemic? Society of Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness. Vol 7, Issue 4. August 2013, pp.413-418. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/dmp.2013.43
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