Homemade masks can offer protection from coronavirus

Coronavirus

An employee of a bank wearing a face mask watches the computer monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Asian shares surged Tuesday after a rally in U.S. stocks, mostly spurred by health care companies’ announcements of developments that could aid in the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The latest news about coronavirus points to covering your face with a mask. The Centers for Disease Control say as many as 25% of people infected with the new coronavirus may not show symptoms at all and they never feel sick. That’s a shocking number. And it means that asking only unwell people to stay home is unlikely to be enough.

While medical masks must be saved for healthcare workers, scientists who study how respiratory disease spreads say even a homemade mask can offer some protection.

If you’re staying home and nobody in your family is infected, you don’t need a mask most of the time. But more experts now say that wearing a nonmedical or homemade mask to go the grocery store or pharmacy may be a good idea.

While we don’t have a lot of research on the effectiveness of homemade masks in preventing the spread of infection, scientists who study airborne diseases can offer some guidance. A mask sewn from a pattern or an improvised face covering made with a T-shirt probably offers some protection. The thicker the fabric, the better: Think dish towel, heavy cotton T-shirt or thick, felt-like fabric.

While some people have suggested using a bandanna, the fabric is typically so thin and flimsy that it would likely offer little protection. Double or triple the bandanna fabric if that’s all you have. And wearing a mask makes it less likely that you will touch your face, which also helps prevent the spread of illness.

We know that Hong Kong and Taiwan jumped to action early with universal mask-wearing and social distancing have gotten their cases under much greater control than we have here in the U.S. The bottom line, some protection is better than none.

For an example of how to make a mask at home, click here.

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