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The Struggle Against Covid-19

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Where to Buy Coronavirus Face Masks and How to Make Them At Home

April 9th 2020

Emergency Medical

At this point of the coronavirus pandemic, everyone should be doing their part to slow the spread. That includes following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, such as:

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Wiping your hands with hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • Keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Staying home as much as possible
  • Avoiding people who are sick
  • Distancing yourself from others by 6 feet when you’re out

Until recently, the CDC reserved the use of masks for healthcare workers, people who are sick, and caregivers. But new CDC guidelines promote the use of masks by everyone. The recommendation comes on the heels of a newly published study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study shows that clouds of droplets filled with coronavirus can travel up to 27 feet — over 4 times further than the suggested 6 feet for social distancing. These clouds are formed when someone coughs, sneezes, or simply exhales. 

Can masks block the droplets from entering your nose or mouth? Yes, and no. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of masks, where to buy them, and how to make your own.

What’s the difference between N95 and cloth masks?

By now you’ve probably heard about N95 masks, which are also called respirators. They’re the ones in short supply in the healthcare industry. N95 masks fit tightly around the nose and mouth, blocking both incoming and outgoing germs. In other words, if your provider is wearing an N95 mask and sneezes, most of the droplets produced by the sneeze won’t escape. Conversely, if you sneeze, your provider’s N95 mask will block your droplets from entering their nose or mouth.

Homemade masks don’t offer that degree of protection. But they can still help you stop the spread of the virus. Studies like this one published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that people infected with COVID-19 may not have symptoms. A homemade mask will help people who are sick but don’t know it from releasing droplets into the air and spreading the virus. 

Wearing masks should not replace the CDC’s other safety measures. You should continue to stay at least 6 feet away from others in supermarkets and pharmacies and wash your hands frequently. You should wash your hands after taking off your mask, too.

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