Once dismissed as ineffective, face coverings now play a critical role in helping to stop COVID-19 from spreading.
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) strongly recommends all residents wear non-medical face coverings in public settings, such as grocery stores or pharmacies. Non-medical face coverings can include a bandana, scarf or other reusable cloth material.
Face coverings provide protection from other infected individuals and reduce your chances of giving the virus to someone else.
“We know that a significant percentage of individuals infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus may have no symptoms, but can pass the virus on to other individuals who may become very sick,” said Dr. Neil Lamb of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.
Although they may help to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19, face coverings do not replace hand washing or social distancing. Still, they are helpful for adults and children over the age of 2 in confined settings where social distancing is difficult to practice.
How to make a face covering
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers helpful tutorials for both sew and no-sew face coverings. A sewing machine is required to make sewn cloth coverings, which you can read about here.
If you don’t know how to sew or have access to a sewing machine, here are two easy ways to make a face covering at home:
Quick cut t-shirt method
- Using scissors, cut 7-8 inches off the bottom of a t-shirt.
- Take the piece you just cut off and fold it in half to the right.
- Now, cut a 6-7 inch rectangle from the right side of the material.
- Cut the loops on the right to make strings.
- Tie the covering around your neck, then over the top of your head.
- Take bandana and fold in half.
- Fold top down. Fold bottom up.
- Place rubber bands or hair ties about 6 inches apart.
- Fold sides to the middle and tuck.
- Loop the hair ties or rubber bands. around your ears and adjust.
How to wear a face covering:
The CDC said a face covering should:
- fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
- be secured with ties or ear loops.
- include multiple layers of fabric.
- allow for breathing without restriction.
- be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.
When you’re ready to remove your face covering, be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Place the covering in a washing machine and immediately wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
What not to do
Whether you make your own face covering or buy one, remember to reserve the medical-grade masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals, first responders and other healthcare professionals. These items are in short supply.
“If you have extra medical masks, gowns or gloves, please donate these,” said ADPH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mary McIntyre.
Have PPE you want to donate locally? Contact the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber at 256-535-2000 to arrange drop-off.
While most children can safely wear a face covering, you should not place one on a child younger than 2. Those who are having trouble breathing or unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cover without help should also not wear one.