Should all Americans wear masks?

Photo by visuals on Unsplash

Emerging research indicates that masks may reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the public should consider wearing fabric masks during Phase One of the COVID-19 outbreak response. Newsweek summarized a wealth of expert opinions including WHO, CDC, and Johns Hopkins.

The CDC is currently considering recommending face coverings in public.

Americans should not wear personal protective equipment like surgical or N95 masks. This level of protection is not needed by the general public and should be conserved for the health care workers.

Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash

Much of the transmission of SARS among healthcare workers tied back to participating in procedures like intubation and suction that aerosolized the virus. The average person will not encounter this type of exposure.

We must protect those upon which we all depend.

Fabric or homemade masks might reduce the spread but not in the way many assume.

Asian cultures wear masks to prevent spreading sickness but waiting to wear a mask until you show symptoms won’t work with SARS-CoV-2. People can spread the virus before symptoms appear. Potentially, herein lies our chance to stop the transmission that happens before a person knows he or she is sick.

Materials tested in a 2013 study found the most effective DIY-mask materials to be vacuum cleaner bags and 100% cotton t-shirt fabric.

Free mask PDFs from Craft Passion

A word of caution:

Fabric masks can increase risk when not washed or touched frequently by wearers. If the mask leads people to touch their faces, then it could do more harm than good.

Fabric masks should not be considered protective equipment since they do not offer adequate protection. Our situation is less than ideal, so consider all evidence, your circumstances, and continually update yourself as new research publishes every day.

The Craft Passion PDF pattern worked well for us and is easy to follow.

Disclaimer: Please defer to more experienced public health professionals should our advice conflict. All recommendations find root in the best available evidence in my possession, at that time.

Keywords: Covid-19, Coronavirus, Pandemic, Outbreak, Masks, PPE, Nurses, Doctors, Hospitals, Healthcare workers

Originally published at on April 2, 2020.

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