The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises the use of cloth face coverings “to slow the spread of the infectious diseases and help people who may have a virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.” Recent studies indicate that a high number of individuals with the novel coronavirus are asymptomatic and that the virus can be transmitted to others before symptoms become apparent. By wearing a cloth face covering, you add an extra layer of protection between yourself and others when speaking, coughing, or sneezing. The CDC recommends that surgical masks and N95 respirators, which are in short supply, be reserved for health care workers, medical first responders, and other essential workers.
According to the CDC, your face covering should “fit snugly against the side of the face” and “be secured with ties or ear loops.” The face covering should be worn in all community settings, especially if you are in close proximity to other people.
The cloth face covering is a protective measure. Even if you wear one, it is still essential to follow CDC guidelines, including but not limited to washing your hands often and thoroughly for 20 seconds (especially during key times like before preparing food and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing) and practicing social distancing (defined as staying at least six feet away from other people, not gathering in groups, and avoiding crowded places and mass gatherings).
The CDC recommends people routinely wash cloth face coverings in a washing machine, depending on the frequency of use. Cassandra M. Pierre, a physician specializing in infectious diseases and medical director of public health programs at Boston Medical Center, previously told Allure that a reusable cloth face covering should be washed after each wearing. When you take it off, according to Pierre, it’s best to fold it in half to contain the inner secretions and deposit it into a laundry bin, ideally one with a lid that you can close, if you aren’t able to wash it immediately. The water temperature for the washing machine cycle should be warm or hot. For further instructions, please refer to Allure’s detailed guide on how to care for your cloth face covering.
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