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Mask in place

CDC now recommends everyone don face masks for broad public use

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Ashton Acree wears a face mask at Hy-Vee Monday afternoon. With new CDC guidelines recommending that the general public wear face masks, more shoppers have started to don the new accessory in the fight against the coronavirus.

Since national recommendations on face masks changed over the weekend, Webster County Public Health is advising the public on what masks to wear as an additional layer of protection against the spread of coronavirus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday recommended that all members of the public wear cloth face masks as an additional public health measure, in addition to six-feet social distancing and staying at home as much as possible.

New recommendations reflect the realization from recent studies that show a significant portion of those infected with coronavirus can be either asymptomatic or in a pre-symptomatic stage, still able to transmit the virus before realizing they’re infected.

Cloth face masks should:

• Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.

-Messenger photo by Elijah Decious
Fabric on a pew at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Dodge awaits people eager to make homemade masks for the community. In light of protective personal equipment shortages for healthcare workers, sewing circles have stepped up to make sure front-line workers aren't unnecessarily exposed.

• Cover both the mouth and nose.

• Be secured with ties or ear loops.

• Include multiple layers of fabric.

• Allow for breathing without constriction.

• Have the ability to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

“Cloth face masks are not intended to protect the wearer from getting COVID-19, but may prevent the spread of the wearer’s germs from getting to others,” said Kelli Bloomquist, public information officer for Webster County Public Health.

Masks can be sewn out of household fabric or made from common materials around the home like scarves or bandanas with rubber bands. Cloth face coverings are not the same as surgical masks or N-95 respirators, the critical supplies that the CDC says must continue to be reserved for medical first responders and front-line medical staff.

“As more residents and families begin considering making and wearing masks, it is important to remind everyone that surgical masks and N-95 respirators are in short supply and are necessary for healthcare workers and first responders who are on the front lines of this virus,” Bloomquist said. “Please do not take away from what is necessary for our front-line responders.”

Masks should be washed and sanitized routinely, depending on frequency of use. Normal machine washing and drying with regular detergent is sufficient.

Public health officials say it is imperative to put on the mask properly to cover the nose and mouth and be cognizant of not fussing with it while it’s on.

“Their use shouldn’t lull people into a false sense of security,” Bloomquist said.

When removing a mask, it’s imperative not to touch any part of your face in the process. Use one finger to unloop the mask from behind the ear. Touching the fabric creates cross contamination.

Webster County Public Health advised that even when wearing a mask in public, wearers need to take social distancing seriously by staying a minimum of six feet away from others. As always, wash your hands diligently and cover coughs. Only go out for absolute essentials and remember that grocery shopping should not be a group activity.

Masks are not appropriate for children under two, anyone with difficulty breathing or anyone who is unconscious or incapacitated due to the risk of suffocation.

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