A Guide To Purchasing (or Making) A Face Mask For COVID-19

A Guide To Purchasing (or Making) A Face Mask For COVID-19

Although cloth masks provide only minimal protection against the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses, the Centers for Illness Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommend that everybody use them when leaving the house. The hope is that this low-risk, relatively easy intervention could make a dent within the spread of COVID-19 by folks with no symptoms or extraordinarily mild ones.

However masks aren’t precisely straightforward to return by: Medical-grade ones are already briefly supply for healthcare workers who want them, so healthy folks shouldn’t even attempt to buy them. And within the wake of the CDC’s new recommendations, even non-medical fabric masks are sold out or backordered in many online stores. If you happen to’re attempting to figure out if and how you should cover your face on your subsequent essential journey out of the house—for a stroll on an uncrowded avenue or to buy crucial groceries, as an illustration—right here’s a guide to all your options.

Things to search for and avoid when buying a fabric masks
A lot of crafters and makers, as well as corporations that normally sell different cloth products, are now offering non-medical masks for sale. But not all of these masks are created equal. In case you’re ordering protective equipment online, right here’s what to look for:

Do not purchase medical-grade, filtering masks unless you might be immunocompromised or are caring for someone sick with COVID-19. Hospitals are experiencing extreme shortages of these masks, and they aren't shown to provide significant protection for healthy individuals.
Your mask should cover your nostril and mouth and will have fastenings that maintain it firmly in place while you talk, move, and breathe. If you have to touch your face to adjust your masks, you risk exposing your nostril or mouth to germs.
Ideally, the masks ought to have some kind of adjustable band to minimize gaps between your nose and your cheeks.
The simplest fabrics are waterproof and tightly-woven—not stretchy or sheer. A tightly-woven cotton is the next finest thing, and your masks ought to have at the very least two layers of it.
Your masks should be straightforward to sanitize by boiling or throwing within the washing machine. Which means it shouldn’t have fabric glues, delicate materials, or funky decorations (aside from prints on the fabric). Gildings like sequins (sure, there are people selling sequined masks proper now) provide surfaces that viral particles can linger on for days.
If you happen to buy a fashionable cover to go over your masks—some stores are selling glittery cloth covers and chainmail overlays, for instance—do not forget that this outer layer is being exposed to viral particles. You have to remove it and sanitize it just like you would with the mask itself.
What a couple of balaclava or scarf?
Rachel Noble, a public health microbiologist at UNC at Chapel Hill, tells PopSci that balaclavas and different warm-weather gear designed to cover your nose and mouth are unlikely to be suitable for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Because they’re designed to be as easy to breath by as potential, they are usually made of loose fabrics.

"You wish to choose a really, really tightly woven material," Noble says. "We’re speaking about something that’s approximately the density of the weave of a bandana, or a really high-high quality bedsheet."

Jersey materials, towels, and any textiles that stretch while you pull them are probably too loose, she says, as are most sweaters and different knit yarns. So if you happen to really can’t sew or put collectively a masks with hair ties as described below, covering your nose and mouth with a bandana tied around your face is probably slightly more effective and simpler to sanitize than a balaclava or wound-up scarf. However all of these workarounds are mostly only helpful in that they remind you to not touch your face and shield bystanders from the worst of your coughing and sneezing. If you’re coughing and sneezing, you should really be staying inside.