(RxWiki News) As we learn more about COVID-19, health officials are changing strategies to try to stop the virus. The most recent strategy change involves wearing cloth face coverings in public.
Experts now understand that people who are infected with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic (meaning they do not have any symptoms) and still pass the virus to others — without even knowing it.
That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending that everyone wear cloth face coverings when in public places like grocery stores. Other places where cloth face coverings are now recommended include areas where it is difficult to practice social distancing, such as pharmacies.
Although cloth face coverings may not prevent you from being exposed to the virus, wearing a face covering can help prevent the transmission of the virus to others. This is especially true if you are carrying the virus but do not know it.
Cloth face coverings can be made at home and include any of the following:
- Cloth face covering sewn from cotton fabric
- T-shirt face covering (no-sew method)
- Bandanna face covering (no-sew method)
The CDC recommended that any cloth face covering meet the following requirements:
- It fits snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
- It can be secured with ties or ear loops.
- It is made of or includes multiple layers of fabric.
- It allows you to breathe without being restricted.
- It can be machine-washed and placed in a dryer.
- It is not damaged (does not change shape) after being washed and dried.
Cloth face coverings are not recommended for the following groups of people, the CDC noted:
- Children younger than 2
- Those who have difficulty breathing
- Anyone who can't remove a cloth mask without help, such as those who are unconscious
Cloth face coverings are NOT surgical masks or N-95 respirators, the CDC noted. Surgical masks and N-95 respirators are reserved for health care workers.
This new recommendation does not replace the president's Coronavirus Guidelines for America, which urge people to stay home to prevent the spread. Instead, this recommendation is meant to complement these guidelines.
The CDC recommended routinely washing your cloth face coverings. Also, it is important to not touch your eyes, nose or mouth when taking off your cloth face covering. Wash your hands immediately after removing the covering.