As scientists continue to study the behavior of the new coronavirus across the U.S., the official guidelines around how we can best protect ourselves are subject to change. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recent studies have shown that a significant number of people test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, despite showing no symptoms. Plus, it’s also possible to transmit the virus to other people before you show symptoms.
To help stop the spread of the disease, the CDC is now recommending that people wear cloth face coverings when they’re out in public and find it difficult to maintain other social distancing measures, such as when shopping for groceries. But in doing this, it’s important not to use FDA-approved surgical masks and N95 respirators — these should be reserved for frontline workers.
Which means it’s time to get crafty and make your own face covering.
The easiest option is the no-sew bandana face mask, which takes less than a minute to put together. All you need is a 20-inch-by-20-inch cotton bandanna (or any other tightly woven but breathable piece of cotton of similar dimensions), two hair ties or rubber bands, scissors and a coffee filter.
Here are the instructions provided by the CDC:
1. Fold the bandana in half (widthwise).
2. Cut the coffee filter in half (widthwise).
3. Place the coffee filter in the center of the folded bandana.
3. Fold the top third of the bandana down, then fold the bottom third of the bandana up.
4. Slide the hair ties onto either side of the folded fabric until they are about 6 inches apart.
5. Fold the ends in towards the center and tuck them in.
6. To put on the mask, loop the hair ties over your ears. Adjust the mask as necessary to ensure your nose and mouth are completely covered. The CDC says it should fit snugly, with no gaps between your skin and the mask.
A few people have posted handy how-to videos to YouTube, like this one:
To take off your face mask, avoid touching the front of the bandana; get into the habit of using the hair ties to remove it from your face.
It’s also important to wash your face mask after each use. Throw away the coffee filter layer, then machine-wash the fabric with hot water and detergent and let it dry thoroughly before you use it again.
Don’t forget that it’s crucial to continue to practice all other social distancing measures recommended by the CDC. In other words, stay home as much as possible, maintain a distance of six feet between yourself and other people when you’re out in public, and avoid close contact with people who are sick.