We recommend wearing a face covering when you are interacting with others who are not members of your household in public and private spaces. Face coverings are an additional tool that individuals should use to help slow the spread of COVID-19 but does not replace social or physical distancing requirements. Wearing cloth face coverings will not prevent spread of COVID-19 without these other protective measures.
The Oregon Health Authority released “Oregon Guidance on Use of Homemade Masks or Face Coverings by the Public to Prevent Spread of COVID-19” over the weekend, emphasizing that the best way to prevent transmission of the virus still depends on physical distancing, frequently washing hands and surfaces, and staying home when you are sick. The new guidance is in response to growing evidence from the CDC that 1 in 4 people who are infected may not have symptoms. Homemade masks limit the spread of COVID-19 by containing respiratory droplets that may contain the virus, even if you don’t have symptoms.
The public can safely use cloth face coverings when you need to leave your home for short periods of time to obtain essential goods or services. Use a clean face covering ideally each time you leave home. By implementing safe, accurate use of these homemade cloth masks, everyone could have a higher degree of protection from this virus. Individuals can be contagious before the onset of symptoms. If you have covered your nose and mouth, it can limit the spread of COVID-19. Remember, “my mask helps protects you, your mask helps protects me.”
Cloth face coverings are not a substitute for physical distancing, washing hands, and staying home when ill, but they may be helpful when combined with these primary interventions. If you plan to use a face covering, it is important to keep your nose and mouth covered. Lowering the covering from your nose and mouth while talking defeats the purpose of wearing the face covering since you can spread virus while you talk.
The CDC reports that your cloth face covering should:
- Reach above the nose, below the chin, and completely cover the mouth and nostrils
- Fit snugly against the sides of the face
- Be made of multiple layers of fabric that you can still breathe through
- Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damaging the material or shape
- Do not buy surgical masks to use as a face covering. Those are intended for healthcare workers and first responders.
Masks are only effective if you wear them properly. The World Health Organization shares how:
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before touching or putting on the mask.
- Make sure your entire nose and mouth are covered when you put it on.
- Avoid touching the mask while you’re out — this can contaminate it.
- Do not take the mask off while you’re in public.
- To take it off once you return, untie it from the back or remove the elastic from behind the ears — don’t touch the front of it.
- You should immediately wash the mask after returning so it doesn’t contaminate your belongings.
- Wash your hands immediately after you’ve taken it off, and again after you’ve washed the mask.
Read more information from NPR on “Is A Homemade Mask Effective? And What’s The Best Way To Wear One?“
If you know a quilter, reach out by phone for tips. Quilting fabric and other tightly woven fabrics make great face coverings. Cotton blends, flannel, and high thread count sheets also make good options. Hold a material up to the light and if light doesn’t pass through it, it is likely a good option. You want a denser material, but something that you can still breathe comfortably with. T-shirts, bananas, and any layered fabric is still better than nothing.
If you would like to donate cloth face coverings to those in need, please contact us at 541-889-7279.