April 6: As has been widely anticipated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now recommending that individuals wear non-medical-grade, cloth face coverings in public settings where it may be difficult to maintain social distancing, such as grocery stores, especially in areas with significant community-based spread of COVID-19. This recommendation is based on recent reports that a significant number of individuals who are infected with COVID-19 remain asymptomatic and so will continue to go out in public, where they may unwittingly infect others. If everyone wears masks, this might help prevent those who are unknowingly infected from spreading the illness.
However, the CDC emphasizes, they are not recommending that individuals purchase surgical masks or N-95 respirators that are desperately needed for frontline healthcare workers. Rather, the CDC recommends making your own. You can sew a mask or use a 3D printer; the links below are a good place to start, but lots of other patterns and how-to videos are just a web search away. This video, for example, shows you how to create a no-sew face covering using a T-shirt or face towel and a couple of rubber bands or elastic hair ties. As a general rule, the thicker the fabric the better. Bandanas might seem handy, but they’re typically made of very thin fabric, so if you choose to go the bandana route, fold it to double, triple, or quadruple thickness.
The most important thing to remember is that face coverings are no substitute for all the other precautions we’ve been advising. Wearing a mask, or seeing other people with masks, should not give you a false sense of security. Continue to be vigilant about social distancing, hand washing, and keeping your hands away from your face — whether it’s covered with a mask or not.
Do-it-yourself face masks