While honoring Shelter-In-Place, social distancing guidelines, avoiding touching one’s face, and thoroughly hand washing remain the primary ways for individuals to protect themselves from the spreading the COVID-19 virus, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued a new recommendation for an added measure of safety: general public to wear masks. 

The CDC recommends that the general public wear cloth face coverings in public settings where it is difficult to maintain social distancing. Locations such as grocery stores, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, emergency rooms, or urgent care centers are places where people in communities are typically crowded and therefore transmissions of the virus are more likely. Considering that infected persons may not yet show symptoms and a relatively few COVID-19 positive people can infect an entire community, this measure can further slow the spreading of the virus.

“Infected persons deposit droplets containing the virus into the air by simply breathing, coughing or sneezing.  Others wearing a cloth mask can provide some reduction in viral spread” said Sasha Savage, M.D., Chief Health Officer of THRIVE and the Medical Director of the residency clinic at MidMichigan Medical Center. “Wearing a mask is not a perfect solution and needs to be done properly and in conjunction with all other social distancing and sanitizing practices.  We agree with this recommendation by the CDC for the general public on rare outings of an imperative nature,” he continued.

Steps to take regarding wearing cloth masks:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water before you put on the mask.
  2. If your mask has ties, secure the bottom ties first with a bow around the nape of your neck. Then pull the mask by the upper ties over your mouth and chin and secure around your head.
  3. Wash your hands every time you touch your mask during the day! (Yes, every time.)
  4. Wash your mask every time you remove it and wash your hands with soap and water after removing the mask. Put the mask somewhere isolated until it can be washed.
  5. Assume that there could be virus on both sides of the mask any time you touch it.
  6. Wear a clean mask each time you need to put one on.

How to obtain a cloth mask:

While the N95 mask and other disposable forms must be set aside for medical personnel and first responders, cloth masks are available online. The CDC has illustrated sewing and no-sew masks in this document here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

For up to date COVID-19, refer to the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at: www.cdc.gov.