Make A Mask. Share A Mask. Wear A Mask.
Currently we are faced with the heartbreaking situation that front line health care personnel are risking their lives because our US emergency procurement systems for protective equipment are piecemeal and decentralized and failing to come close to meeting the life or death situational needs in hospitals. But we now have CDC guidance that everyone should be using masks outside their home or when in contact with a sick family member.
Utilizing evidence from China and elsewhere we are learning that masks may reduce the viral load if one comes in contact with an infected individual and can reduce transmission if you yourself are infected but asymptomatic. The recent CDC recommendation to use a mask when leaving one’s home for necessities like food seems like good public health advice. PHI encourages everyone to follow CDC recommendations to physically distance themselves by staying at home as a first step, and then to use a mask (even a bandana over your nose and mouth) when exiting your residence to access or perform essential services.
Many people do not have masks and do not want to take N95 masks away away from the limited supplies for frontline workers. Instead, many are turning to making their own masks. Do-it-yourself masks makessense, can be done simply and easily by many people, and can be shared and distributed to those who may not have access to the materials to make them.
CDC has instructions for making personal masks, including options for sew and no-sew masks as well as instructions for wearing and cleaning them. Local groups are raising funds to support the production of masks and paying unemployed people a stipend for making masks for their community. Many individuals have gotten creative with fanciful fabrics and humorous approaches to personal masks.
Still, this is only a stopgap until we have full production and distribution across the country of masks for everyone who needs one—beginning with our healthcare professionals and other frontline professionals including those working in food service, delivery and other essential services. We take this step now to care for each other, so that each of us can be as safe as possible during this pandemic with staying and home and washing our hands and now wearing masks as the primary means to stay healthy and bend the infection curve.