cloth masks provide only minimal protection against the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommend that everyone use them when leaving the house. The hope is that this low-risk, relatively easy intervention can make a dent in the spread of COVID-19 by people with no symptoms or extremely mild ones.Although
- Do not buy medical-grade, filtering masks unless you are immunocompromised or are caring for someone sick with COVID-19. Hospitals are experiencing extreme shortages of these masks, and they are not shown to provide significant protection for healthy individuals.
- Your mask should cover your nose and mouth and should have fastenings that keep it firmly in place while you talk, move, and breathe. If you have to touch your face to adjust your mask, you might as well not wear one.
- Ideally, the mask should have some kind of adjustable band to minimize gaps between your nose and your cheeks.
- The most effective fabrics are water-resistant and tightly-woven—not stretchy or sheer. A tightly-woven cotton is the next best thing, and your mask should have at least two layers of it.
- Your mask should be easy to sanitize by boiling or throwing in the washing machine. That means it shouldn’t have fabric glues, delicate materials, or funky decorations (other than prints on the fabric). Embellishments like sequins (yes, there are people selling sequined masks right now) provide surfaces that viral particles can linger on for days.
- If you buy a fashionable cover to go over your mask—some stores are selling glittery fabric covers and chainmail overlays, for example—remember that this outer layer is being exposed to viral particles. You must remove it and sanitize it just like you would with the mask itself.