The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.).
In addition to maintaining six feet of physical distancing, the CDC 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. Many retailers now offer cloth face coverings, you can fashion your own from household items at low or no cost.
The cloth face coverings that are recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those medical-grade masks are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
How to Wear a Cloth Face Covering
The CDC recommends the following guidelines for wearing a face covering correctly:
- Wash your hands before putting on your face covering.
- Put it over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.
- Try to fit it snugly against the sides of your face.
- Make sure you can breathe easily.
- Do not place a mask on a child younger than 2.
Use a Face Covering to Help Protect Others
- Wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don't live in your household, especially when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- Don't put the covering around your neck or up on your forehead.
- Don't touch the face covering, and, if you do, clean your hands.
- Masks with exhalation valves are not effective at preventing COVID transmission when worn by a carrier, so they should be covered by a secondary surgical mask or cloth face covering.
Other Everyday Health Habits to Follow
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds each time.
- Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
Take Off Your Cloth Face Covering Carefully
- Untie the strings behind your head or stretch the ear loops.
- Handle only by the ear loops or ties.
- Fold outside corners together.
- Place covering in the washing machine.
- Wash your hands with soap and water.