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In this March 31, 2020, photo, ManPower DC founder and CEO Jimmie Jenkins, 30, poses for a photograph with his sons, Jahrei Montgomery, 11, and Ashton Cross, 5, outside their home in Washington. Since mid-March Jenkins has had his children wear protective masks and gloves anytime they leave the house. Jenkins is part of a community food outreach initiative, in partnership with Martha's Table, to get needed food directly to neighborhoods in southeast Washington. Local volunteers are the tip of the spear for a grassroots community effort to keep Washington's most vulnerable neighborhoods fed during the unprecedented coronavirus crisis which has nearly shut down the American economy. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Allison Colman
Published: 09 April 2020

To further slow the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new recommendations regarding the use of cloth face coverings. According to CDC, the recommendation is due to recent studies and data confirming that a “significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity — for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.” 

covid19 urban parks hi res webThe World Health Organization now recommends the language "physical distancing" instead of "social distancing" as it is a more accurate description. Keeping physical distance is essential for mitigating the spread of COVID-19, but that doesn't mean we have to socially disconnect from one another.

Recommendations on Wearing Cloth Face Coverings 

With this new research, CDC now recommends that individuals wear cloth face coverings in public settings where physical distancing measures are challenging to adhere to, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. This may include grocery stores, other stores and locations deemed essential, and in other areas across your community where physical distancing is difficult to maintain. It is vital that people do not use parks and trails where proper physical distancing is not possible, and closure determinations are being made by local governmental leadership. In parks and trails that remain open, face masks can add an extra layer of protection for situations where people may occasionally come into closer proximity with one another. The good news is that these cloth face coverings can be easily fashioned from household items, and there are dozens of creative ways to make a face covering. (sewing video tutorial below)

The coverings should: 

  • Fit snuggly but comfortably against the side of your face 
  • Cover your nose and mouth 
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops 
  • Include multiple levels of fabric 
  • Allow for breathing without restriction 
  • Be able to be laundered and routinely washed 

*According to CDC, cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance. 

While this is a voluntary public health measure, it’s been widely endorsed and encouraged in many cities and states thus far. Some cities have even gone a step further to require people to cover their faces in public or when working in certain industries. For example, in San Diego County, all grocery store, gas station, convenience store, pharmacy and restaurant workers are required to wear masks. 

The main purpose of this additional measure is to prevent people who may have the virus and not know it from spreading it to others. Again, it does not replace physical distancing. For more information on wearing face coverings, consult CDC’s frequently asked questions resource. We all must continue to practice physical distancing and other CDC recommended public health measures to slow the spread.


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