By: Maddy Schioppo
Is the importance of masks about preventing people who have the coronavirus from spreading it or protecting people from getting it? It’s about both, and everyone should be wearing a mask because the risk is low, and the return may be high. During the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that masks weren’t necessary for healthy people going about their daily lives, and they should be reserved for patients, health-care workers, and others in close contact with the infected. But as the weeks carried on and the conditions of the country got increasingly worse, not only have healthy people purchased and are using masks due to fear of the risk, the C.D.C. changed its recommendations saying that all Americans should wear cloth face coverings in public, while emphasizing that surgical and N95 masks should still be reserved for front-line workers.
This change was partly sparked by newly acquired research stating that people who don’t show any symptoms can still take part in spreading the virus, and to reduce the amount of viral particles released, masks should be worn. The masks that these organizations and centers are saying should be reserved for medical personnel are the expensive and highly efficient N95 respirators that doctors have to get fitted for. Another type of mask, the so-called surgical mask, is just a filter across your face, and although they are cheap, they do the job of preventing you from secreting respiratory droplets and others from getting them from you. Concerns have arisen about cleaning masks, especially because surgical filter masks are usually thrown away after being worn once. The C.D.C states that masks should be routinely washed, and that a washing machine “should suffice.” Masks are so important because they can reduce the number of people that an individual with the coronavirus can potentially infect; however, in the wake of this pandemic, the availability of masks can be low and hard to obtain for some.
This is why there has been an unprecedented increase in tutorials on how to create your own mask. Homemade masks can be made by sewing, but for the people who do not know how to sew, there are easier alternatives. A YouTube tutorial by the C.D.C. states that you can use items such as a bandanna or a scarf, or you can even make a face covering with an old t-shirt. First, you are instructed to fold your square of fabric from the top to the middle and the bottom to the middle. Then, repeat the same folding sequence a second time. Next, take two rubber bands and place one of them around one end of the folded fabric and the other around the opposite end, leaving some space of fabric from the rubber band to the end. With the space left, fold both of those ends to the middle, and you have your homemade mask! There are many tutorials and ways to create your own mask, but the C.D.C. provided a very easy way to do so, with an accompanying video tutorial. Making a mask doesn’t have to be complicated. Along with other precautions, masks have the capacity to control the spread of the virus and bring the number of infected people down as low as possible. So, while you’re home and looking for ways to fill the time, why not give it try and make your own mask!
Photo courtesy of marketwatch.com.