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Stay Safe – CDC Recommends Cloth Face Masks for all People in Public

By Eliza Skoler

The CDC encourages people to wear cloth face masks. What is a cloth face mask? How can it help? How can you make a mask?

The CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings when they are in public to prevent the spread of coronavirus. These cloth face masks are an extra measure of protection. People should still be sure to wash their hands frequently and practice social distancing – stay at home as much as possible and remain at least six feet away from others. Cloth masks are recommended in areas where social distancing measures are more difficult, like the grocery store or the pharmacy. Check out our infographic on diabetes and coronavirus for more ways to protect yourself.  

What is a cloth face covering?

A cloth face covering, or a cloth mask, is often homemade from fabric you find at home. For example, you can use a scarf, bandana, hand towel, or t-shirt. Cloth masks should be comfortable but snug against your face, with ties to hold it in place. You can wear these cloth masks whenever you are out in public, and you should wash them regularly.

Why are cloth face masks important?

Researchers have found that many people carry the coronavirus inside their bodies before they show symptoms, or may show no symptoms at all. This means that the virus can spread between people even if they don’t feel sick or seem sick. A cloth face mask can reduce your risk of being infected while talking to someone at the grocery store, and it can reduce your risk of infecting someone else if you already have the virus. You can learn about how to use a cloth face mask most effectively here.

Is a cloth face covering the same as a medical mask?

The CDC emphasizes that people should please not wear surgical masks or N95 masks – healthcare professionals need these masks to stay safe. Instead, homemade masks will provide protection for people who aren’t working in healthcare.

How can I make a cloth face mask?

You can make cloth masks with or without a sewing machine, using pieces of fabric, old t-shirts, or bandanas. The CDC has instructions for making cloth masks. Some types of fabric are more protective than others; learn more here. There are many videos on the internet that show you how to make a mask with the specific materials you might have available.

If you are interested in making masks to donate to healthcare professionals, this website has an updated list of hospitals that are accepting homemade masks. 

Where does our community manager Cherise Shockley recommend buying a mask?

In late March, we asked Cherise where to buy a mask and she recommended Tallygear, an Esty shop with hundreds of sales and many five-star reviews – and owner Donna has diabetes! Donna has 18 styles and is ready to hear from you. Our editor Kelly Close says “they are obviously made with such care and, with so many others, we are grateful to Donna for working so hard to help the diabetes community and many others be safer while the globe is in the midst of this pandemic." Tallygear also sells diabetes supply cases, insulin pump cases, and more.

Thank you to all for donning masks outside – in addition to serving as another measure of safety, it shows others that you are doing everything possible to protect them.