On Friday, April 3rd, President Trump, guided by the Center for Disease Control, recommended to Americans that while in public, we should "wear a cloth covering," in an effort to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus. 

This raised a lot of questions among citizens nationwide as "cloth covering" seems like a loose term, far removed from the precocious yet specific "N95" respirators we were originally told would not be necessary for average daily public use early on in the pandemic. Now weeks later, as cases of COVID-19 rises, the N95s are in short supply globally and justifiably reserved in some areas exclusively for our brave front line workers such as health care providers.

So why "cloth coverings" and why now?

After hours of perusing the web for breaking news regarding cloth coverings, which we've listed below for further reading, we've come to the conclusion that in this point in the game, when it comes to helping stop the spread through social contamination, extra precaution while in public is now more important than ever. Seems you don't have to show signs of being sick to spread the virus.

COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 appears to move from person to person through respiratory droplets. These are spread when an infected person breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes. Notice, "breathes" is highlighted. An infected person doesn't even need to couch to transmit the droplets, and  more tests are proving you don't have to be showing signs of sickness as we once thought, to be actively shedding the virus.

In fact, there are reports , like the one from LIVE SCIENCE that suggests up to 25%  of the confirmed cases in some areas are folks who had previously not showed any signs of the virus.

It's important to note that covering your face isn't to protect you from others as much as it is for you to protect others. Check out this compelling article from ABC News to further explain why it's deemed important now to wear face coverings in public. " You can protect those around you by wearing a mask, and they will protect you."

This means you can unknowingly feel just fine and still be transmitting the virus to others while you're in public. Hence the new recommendation that while in public especially if social distancing in more difficult, face covering should now be added to your safety regime. Face coverings are NOT the only defense necessarily to protect yourself. Frequent hand washing, good hygiene and practicing strict social distancing in public, is still considered good practice when STAYING HOME , which is considered the number way to help stop the spread of COVID-19 isn't possible. Don't make the mistake of thinking wearing face coverings or mask now replaces these other precautionary recommendations, please.

A cloth covering as defined by diatribe.org suggests that "A cloth face covering, or a cloth mask, is often homemade from fabric you find at home. For example, you can use a scarf, bandana, hand towel, or t-shirt."

As stated in WIRED,  "Wearing a mask is a last-resort measure. A mask is not a virus-blocking solution that will allow you to return to normal social interactions. We all still need to stay home as much as possible until shelter-in-place orders have lifted."

The CDC recommends that face coverings should fit snug but comfortably. They should be secured with ties or ear loops. They should include multiple layers of fabric and should allow for breathing without restriction. They should also be laundered and machine dried on the warmest setting while still allowing the covering to maintain it's shape. There are instructions on the CDC website here to make cloth covering masks.

If you are in Victoria County and are looking for masks or would like to volunteer to make them in the area for front-line healthcare workers or the community at large, there is a resource who is working closely with multiple mask makers who can steer you in the right direction, Victoria Volunteer Mask Makers on Facebook.

As always we will continue be diligent in keeping our community informed about available masks and the most up to date news regarding COVID-19.

The New England Journal of Medicine has compelling articles such as this one, COVID-19- Navigating the Uncharted. Ars Technica offers Face masks for COVID-19: A Deep Dive Into the Data as well as THE LANCET Respiratory Medicine's- The Rational Use of Face Masks In The COVID-19 Pandemic.

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