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Will homemade face masks prevent you from getting sick from coronavirus? What to know

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Homemade masks like this are now a household good.

Angela Lang / CNET

Visit the WHO website for the latest news and information on the coronavirus pandemic.

Facial masks that you make at home or that you buy online are believed to provide a measure of protection against coronavirus disease to the extent that it allows larger particles to enter spray the air when you cough, spit, or sneeze. But what about the smaller particles that many homemade masks and coverings can't stop so well?

And why has the attitude changed so quickly, with the wearing of a face mask in public places in some areas even mandatory? Is it recommended to wear masks when going out or only in some places? Do you even have to wear face masks when the lifts and cities reopen ?

We don't have an answer to every question. But as the coronavirus claims more than 3.3 million cases and more than 235,000 deaths worldwide, people are turning to homemade masks in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19 disease to slow down.

This article is updated regularly as advice and information about homemade masks and the coronavirus continue to develop. It is intended as a tool to help you understand the current situation as presented by organizations such as the CDC and American Lung Association, but should not serve as medical advice.

Read more : Buy face masks online: Baby Yoda, Amazon, Etsy, more

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come in all shapes and sizes.

Sarah Tew / CNET

How can wearing non-medical masks in public help?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised medical grade face masks for months on people suspected or diagnosed with COVID-19 as well as on medical care providers. However, many cases in the US and especially in hotspots such as New York, Rhode Island, Michigan, Louisiana and Arizona have proven that current measures are not strong enough to smooth the curve [194590006].

There is also data that it can be an advantage to wear a homemade mask in crowded places such as the supermarket, rather than no face covering at all. Social distance and hand washing are still paramount (more below).

Shortly after the CDC changed its recommendation to wear masks said the American chief physician of the American Lung Association, Dr. Albert Rizzo, this in an emailed statement. :

Wearing the masks by all individuals can provide a measure of barrier protection against respiratory droplets that are coughed up or sneezed around them. Early reports show that the virus can live in a drop in the air for up to one to three hours after leaving an area. Covering your face prevents these droplets from entering the air and infecting others.

Homemade masks can help protect others from

According to the American Lung Association one in four people infected with COVID-19 may show mild or no symptoms at all. Using a fabric face cover when you are around others can help block large particles that you could eject from coughing, sneezing or accidentally launched saliva (eg, by speaking), which would spread transmission to others may slow down if you don't know you're sick.

"These types of masks are not intended to protect the wearer but to protect against accidental transmission – if you are an asymptomatic carrier of the coronavirus," says the American Lung Association in a blog post discussing the wearing of homemade masks (emphasis on us).

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What The CDC Says About Homemade Face Masks Today

The main takeaway from the CDC's message is that covering your face when you leave the house is a "voluntary public health measure" and should not replace proven precautions such as self-quarantine at home, social distance and thoroughly washing your hands .

The CDC is the US authority on protocols and protection against COVID-19 the disease caused by the coronavirus.

In the words of the CDC, it recommends "wearing cloth face covers in public environments where other social distance measures are difficult to maintain (for example, supermarkets and pharmacies).] especially in areas of significant community bound transmission. "(Emphasis is on the CDCs.)

The Institute says you should not seek medical or surgical masks yourself and leave respiratory masks N95 to health professionals, rather you choose basic cloth or fabric coverings that can be washed and reused. Previously, the agency considered homemade face masks as a last resort in hospitals and medical institutions.

Keep reading to learn more about the CDC's original stance on homemade masks.

The Right Way to Wear a Face Covering or Fabric Face Mask

The important thing is to cover your entire nose and mouth, meaning the face mask should fit under your chin. The upholstery is less effective if you take it off your face when you're in a busy store, like talking to someone. For example, it is better to adjust your upholstery before you leave your car, rather than waiting in line at the supermarket. Read more about why fit is so important.

Can you reuse your face mask?

Homemade masks and coverings made of fabric fabric are machine washable. Medical grade masks are ideal for single use, although in certain hospital settings the severe shortage of N95 masks necessitates procedural exceptions. The FDA approved an emergency sterilization procedure only for N95 masks in medical settings. Here's what you need to know about mask cleaning and reuse .

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Face masks are everywhere.

James Martin / CNET

N95 Masks vs Other Masks: Facial Expression and Certification

N95 Masks are considered the Holy Grail of Face Covers, and are considered by medical professions to be the most effective way to protect the wearer from acquisition. the coronavirus.

N95 masks differ from other types of surgical masks and face masks in that they create a tight seal between the ventilator and your face, filtering at least 95% of the airborne particles. They can include an exhalation valve to facilitate breathing when worn. Coronaviruses can linger in the air for up to 30 minutes and are passed from person to person by vapor (breath), talking, coughing, sneezing, saliva and transferring to commonly touched objects.

Each model N95 mask from each manufacturer is certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. N95 surgical respirator masks undergo secondary clearance by the Food and Drug Administration for use in surgery – better protecting practitioners from exposure to substances such as patients' blood.

In healthcare in the United States, N95 masks must also undergo a mandatory fit test before use using a protocol established by OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This video from manufacturer 3M shows some of the main differences between standard surgical masks and N95 masks. Homemade masks are not regulated, although some hospital websites point to preferred patterns they suggest using.

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Handmade face masks: cotton and elastic

Homemade face masks can make yourself quickly and efficiently with a sewing machine or by hand. There are even techniques for not sewing, such as using a hot iron or a bandana (or other cloth) and rubber bands. Many sites offer patterns and instructions that use multiple layers of cotton, elastic bands and regular thread.

Generally, the patterns contain simple pleats with elastic straps that fit over your ears. Some are more contoured to resemble the shape of N95 masks. Still others contain bags in which you can add "filter media" that you can buy elsewhere.

Please note that there is no strong scientific evidence that the masks will conform tightly enough to the face to form a seal, or that the filter material inside will work effectively. For example, standard surgical masks are known to leave gaps. Therefore, the CDC emphasizes other precautions, such as washing your hands and distancing yourself from others, in addition to wearing a face cover in crowded areas and coronavirus hotspots when going out in public.

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For many, face masks and coverings are now part of everyday life.

James Martin / CNET

Which homemade masks were used first (not COVID-19)

Many sites with patterns and instructions for homemade masks were created as a fashionable way to prevent the wearer from inhaling large particles, such as car exhaust fumes ; s, air pollution and pollen during the allergy season. They have not been taken as a way of protecting you from obtaining COVID-19. However, the CDC believes that these masks can slow the spread of the coronavirus, as other types of masks are no longer widely available.

One site, CraftPassion, contains this disclaimer:

Due to recent coronavirus attacks around the world, I have received many requests about adding non-woven filters in the face mask. Disclaimer: This face mask is not intended to replace the surgical face mask, it is an emergency plan for those who do not benefit from a surgical mask on the market. Proper use of a surgical mask is still the best way to prevent virus infection.

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3M / Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt / CNET

CDC & # 39; s Original Position on Homemade Masks

Together with the World Health Organization, the CDC is the authoritative body that sets guidelines for the medical community to follow. The position of the CDC on homemade masks changed during the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 24, a page on the CDC website acknowledged a shortage of N95 masks and suggested five alternatives if a healthcare provider or caregiver does not have access to an N95 mask.

Here's what a CDC site had to say about homemade masks back then:

In environments where face masks are not available, HCP can use homemade masks (eg bandana, scarf) to care for patients with COVID-19 as a last resort [our emphasis]. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE because their ability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution is advised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in conjunction with a face shield covering the entire front (up to the chin or below) and the sides of the face.

However, another page on the CDC site was found to make an exception for conditions where N95 masks are not available, including homemade masks. (NIOSH stands for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.)

HCP use of non-NIOSH-approved masks or homemade masks

In environments where N95 respirators are so limited that they routinely maintained care standards for wearing of N95 respirators and equivalent or higher levels of protection are no longer possible, and surgical masks are not available. As a last resort, HCP may need to use masks that have never been evaluated or approved by NIOSH or homemade masks. Consideration should be given to using these masks for the care of patients with COVID-19, tuberculosis, measles and varicella. However, caution is advised when considering this option.

Now the CDC advocates that all citizens wear face masks when they leave the house.

Know the limits

It is worth emphasizing once again that sewing your own face mask does not prevent you from contracting the corona virus in a risky situation, such as getting stuck in crowded places or continue to meet friends or family who are not yet living with you.

Since the coronavirus can be transmitted by someone who appears to be symptom-free but does harbor the virus, it is critical to the health and well-being of those over 65 and those with underlying conditions to know what proven measures will help protect everyone – quarantine, social distance and washing hands are the most crucial, according to experts.

For more information, here are eight common health myths about coronavirus how clean your home and car and answers all your questions about coronavirus and COVID- 19 .

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