Every human on earth wants to stop the spread of COVID-19. Weeks into our stay at home orders, we long to get out, visit our families, and return to a new version of normal life. Our instructions are clear. To stop the spread we need to cover our face.
As some states move to ease restrictions and reopen local economies, scientists warn us to continue hand hygiene and social distancing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also asks all Americans to wear a nonmedical face mask when out in public.
Everyone must wear a face cover to stop the spread of COVID-19. Many misunderstand the purpose of a mask. Some feel this is an unnecessary step or an imposition on personal freedom. Wearing a mask is not about protecting yourself. It is not about you. A face covering is now an act of kindness toward others.
A mask is not designed to protect you from the virus, but rather to prevent you from passing the virus to others. Face coverings are about protecting others.
Anyone of us may be a carrier
Widespread testing is still not available in most areas of the country. In fact, we still do not know the rate of asymptomatic carriers in the US. An asymptomatic carrier is someone who has the virus but does not know it. Data from Iceland show that 50% of those who test positive are asymptomatic.
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A pork plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota represents an important example of the risk of asymptomatic carriers. An asymptomatic carrier unknowingly spread the virus to now 640 coworkers. COVID 19 spreads fast and furious. The pork plan now represents 5% of the state’s Coronoavirus cases.
Until widespread testing is available, the safest course of action is for every American to live as though we are all asymptomatic carriers. No one wants to make another person sick, but an asymptomatic carrier is contagious and may pass the virus to others.
We all have to leave the house at times. We make trips to the grocery store. The introduction of Telehealth, virtual care, and mail-order pharmacies have reduced the need for some in-person doctor visits. But some doctor visits are still necessary. Our mommies-to-be still need to attend their prenatal appointments.
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The reality is any one of us may be shedding the virus and putting others’ lives at risk.
It is time for action.
How do you make a mask?
The US Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, provides a simple approach to making a cloth, washable and reusable mask to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
CDC Sewn Cloth Face Covering Method
- Two 10”x6” rectangles of cotton fabric
- Two 6” pieces of elastic (or rubber bands, string, cloth strips, or hair ties)
- Needle and thread (or bobby pin)
- Sewing machine
1. Cut out two 10-by-6-inch rectangles of cotton fabric. Use tightly woven cotton, such as quilting fabric or cotton sheets. T-shirt fabric will work in a pinch. Stack the two rectangles; you will sew the mask as if it was a single piece of fabric.
3. Run a 6-inch length of 1/8-inch wide elastic through the wider hem on each side of the mask. These will be the ear loops. Use a large needle or a bobby pin to thread it through. Tie the ends tight.
Don’t have elastic? Use hair ties or elastic headbands. If you only have a string, you can make the ties longer and tie the mask behind your head.
4. Gently pull on the elastic so that the knots are tucked inside the hem. Gather the sides of the mask on the elastic and adjust so the mask fits your face. Then securely stitch the elastic in place to keep it from slipping.
CDC no-sew method
CDC Bandana Face Covering
- Bandana (or square cotton cloth approximately 20”x20”)
- Rubber bands (or hair ties)
- Scissors (if you are cutting your own cloth)
All of us must work together to protect each other.
Not all Americans are listening
The White House coronavirus response team is clear: Stay at home, wash your hands, and wear a face covering.
Our country is making progress to flatten the curve. Now, we must shift gears and stop the spread. To achieve success, everyone must do their part.
If it is true that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, isn’t it also true a society is only as healthy as its sickest citizen and only as wealthy as its most deprived? Maya Angelou
As local communities begin to ease restrictions, we must continue to wash our hands, practice social distancing, and cover our faces. We all must do our part to allow our country to reopen.
Each American can take this simple step: Cover our faces to show others we care.