Wear Face Coverings, Not Masks, in Public

Wear Face Coverings, Not Masks, in Public

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Experts are speaking out in favor of a public advisory to wear protective face coverings when in public. They emphasize maintaining physical distancing, keeping our hands away from our eyes, nose and mouth, and hand washing even with a face covering. Dr. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is in support of this safety measure to reduce community transmission of COVID-19.

Dr Fauci stated, "Given the fact that there is a degree of transmission from asymptomatic individuals who may not know that they’re infected, we need to at least examine the possibility, as long as we’re absolutely certain we don’t take the masks away from who are health care providers who need them." 

The World Health Organization states that Coronavirus spreads through contact with someone who has the virus when small droplets spread in a cough or sneeze, maybe even breathing and talking. Another person then comes in contact with the droplets by breathing them in or touching a surface contaminated with droplets and touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Covering our nose and mouth with a face covering can stop some of this spread.  "It doesn’t need to be a classical mask. But something that would have someone prevent them from infecting others," Fauci added.

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Laredo, Texas, and others are urging or requiring residents to cover their noses and mouths in public. Some are even citing residents without face coverings and issuing large fines.

Many hospital systems have been pleading for homemade masks for healthcare providers to use to cover the N95 masks to prolong the use of the limited supply of these protective masks. Patterns are available online for those who have even a little experience with a sewing machine. Tutorials are on hospital websites such as Tufts, and Yale New Haven (links below). Facial coverings can also be scarves, bandanas, or homemade masks using materials made of cotton and/or flannel.

I have heard concern about the recommendation to wear face coverings in public related to social, cultural stigma in the United States. People in countries such as Japan, China, and South Korea wear masks routinely to protect others from colds and other viruses.
People of color may feel at risk for violence due to stereotypical beliefs. We need to fight this stigma and accept that at this time it is critical to protect ourselves and each other to “flatten the curve”. We need to respect and appreciate people who take ALL the precautions advised by medical experts and government leaders.

Wearing a bandana over my mouth and nose when out in public, while feeling awkward, is not hard. I pledge to wear my home-made mask. My husband pledges to wear a bandana. Join us, let’s do this for the good of our country! 
Photos: Deborah Ringen wears her mask while she sews another; her husband tries out his new bandana.

Yale New Haven Hospital: How to Make a Face Mask

Tufts Medical Center How to Make a Fabric Mask

Dr. Fauci Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases  

Author

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Deborah Ringen

Deborah Ringen is Transitional Minister of Health and Wellness for the Southern New England Conference, UCC.

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