COVID-19 Face Mask Recommendations
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Women’s Health Texas is working hard to adapt the latest health recommendations to keep our patients and our providers safe. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now recommends non-medical personnel to wear cloth face masks in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. It is important to note that the cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.
When worn alone, the fabric masks will reduce the chance of inhaling droplets that may contain COVID-19. The primary benefit of wearing a cloth mask is to reduce the chance that the user shares germs with others. The primary benefit of covering your nose and mouth is that you protect others. According to the CDC, people primarily contract COVID-19 through coughs, sneezes and other respiratory droplets. That’s why wearing a mask even if you don’t feel sick can be a good idea.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
How to use a cloth face mask in public
If you are going to use a cloth mask, there is a right way to do it so that you are protecting yourself. The denser the fabric weave and the tighter the mask is to the face, the better the protection.
- Before entering a community space, arrange the mask on your face. Move your hair out of the way and tighten the straps or place the elastics for a good fit. Adjust it until you are comfortable.
- Cloth face coverings should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric, allow for breathing without restriction, and be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.
- Don’t touch the mask again until you get back into the car.
- Sanitize your hands on the way out of the store or pharmacy.
- When back in the car, carefully touch the ear loops or ties pulling off the mask without touching the front of it. Consider the front of it contaminated with the virus. Carefully place the mask in an empty bag.
- When you get home, gently shake the bag over the sink until the mask falls into the sink. Wash the mask in the sink and your hands with hot soapy water. The mask can be hung to dry or put into the dryer.
- Here is the CDC’s guide to making your own cloth face mask.