If you are heading into an area still relatively busy with people running errands and getting some fresh air — much of Capitol Hill, for example — get ready to see a lot of masks and face coverings.
You might want to put one on, yourself.
The CDC has finally issued its recommendations on the “use of cloth face coverings” to slow the spread of COVID-19:
We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
“It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus,” the CDC adds.
Locally, officials are more skeptical of the benefit. “Because there are few studies, we don’t really know for sure how useful cloth masks or other face coverings might be,” the latest update from Public Health reads.
“Medical masks are needed for healthcare workers who are caring for patients with COVID-19. We need our healthcare workers to be able to safely continue providing their services during this pandemic,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health. “For the general public, homemade fabric masks, especially if well-made and fit, may provide some benefit.”
Judging by the streets of Capitol Hill, many are already following the CDC’s guidance. Meanwhile, the number of local COVID-19 mask selfies posted to social media has exploded.
In Washington and King County, meanwhile, there are continued hopeful signs that efforts to slow the spread of the outbreak are slowing. King County has now reached 186 deaths with 284 deaths reported across the state. The University of Washington-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now forecasts the state’s total to remain below 1,000.
— jseattle (@jseattle) April 3, 2020
Thursday, Washington extended its social distancing restrictions including closed schools and the shuttering of all non-essential industries into at least May.
More tips from the CDC on how to properly use a mask are below:
How to Wear a Cloth Face Covering
Applying a face mask – step 1
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
be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape
CDC on Homemade Cloth Face Coverings
CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings 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. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
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.
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, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
Applying a face mask – step 2
Should cloth face coverings be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly? How regularly?
Yes. They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.
How does one safely sterilize/clean a cloth face covering?
A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering.
How does one safely remove a used cloth face covering?
Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.
For anybody in a DIY mood, the CDC has also posted instructions on how to create your own coverings:
- 5/4/20: COVID-19 updates: Phase 1 begins, what’s in Phase 2 (and 3 and 4), King County removes antibody testing case counts, COVID-19 yard art
- 5/1/20: Washington extends COVID-19 restrictions through May, readies ‘four phase’ plan for reopening with limits on groups, restaurant capacity, and travel
- 4/30/20: Washington investigating state totals after COVID-19 ‘excess deaths’ report
- 4/30/20: Facing opposition from mayor and chamber advocates, Seattle tax on big businesses for COVID-19 relief and housing moves toward May vote
- Plus: Capitol Hill Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes offering takeout during COVID-19 ‘stay home’ restrictions
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