Whatcom County Public Health Officials Recommend Wearing Cloth Masks in Public
COVID-19 is spreading in our community. Some people with infection might not show symptoms and spread the virus without knowing it. Others with COVID-19 can spread the infection a couple of days before they start to have signs of illness.
Cloth face coverings can block virus particles from spreading through the air when someone speaks, coughs, or sneezes. This includes people who may have COVID-19 but still feel well and don’t show symptoms.
Face coverings are an extra level of protection, but will not protect you by themselves. Wearing cloth face coverings will not prevent spread of COVID-19 without these other protective measures:
Wash your hands frequently, and wash them well.
Avoid touching your face.
Avoid being around people who are sick.
Staying at home as much as possible. If you go out in public, stay 6 feet away from others as much as possible.
Handwashing and social distancing are still our most effective, proven strategies to limit the spread of disease in our community. Wearing a cloth mask adds to those measures. It is not a substitute for them. Although the evidence is limited about cloth face coverings protecting you from becoming infected, masks will help slow the spread to others if you are infected and have no symptoms.
When Should I Wear a Cloth Face Covering?
Whatcom County public health officials are recommending that everyone wear cloth face coverings in public places.
While this isn’t a requirement, it is an additional step of protection that you should take to keep from spreading the virus to others around you in public. Even if you think you are healthy, wearing a cloth face covering will help keep you from spreading the virus to others if you have it but don’t show symptoms.
How Do I Clean a Cloth Face Covering?
Wash your hands immediately after putting on or taking off the covering.
You must wash cloth face coverings frequently with detergent and hot water. Ideally, wash it after each use. Throw away any cloth face covering that no longer covers your mouth and nose, cannot stay on your face, or has holes.
What Kind of Cloth Face Covering Should I Wear?
Non-medical cloth face coverings are pieces of fabric that cover the nose and mouth and can be made at home. You can make these coverings at home with common household items. See this video from the CDC to learn how.
You can also use a scarf, bandana, or another piece of fabric if you do not have a cloth mask.
This guidance is for cloth face coverings only. Do not use surgical masks or other medical grade masks such as N95 respirators because these medical supplies are in short supply and need to be saved for healthcare workers who are caring for patients with COVID-19.
To learn more about this recommendation, when you should wear a cloth face covering, and how to care for it, visit the Washington State Department of Health Guidance on Cloth Face Coverings.