/The CDC now says all Americans should wear masks — here’s a simple DIY approach

The CDC now says all Americans should wear masks — here’s a simple DIY approach

On Friday, President Donald Trump announced that the “CDC is advising the use of non-medical cloth faced covering as an additional voluntary public health measure.” Trump himself said he does not plan on wearing a face mask.

“The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N95 respirators,” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams added on Friday. “Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.”

But even flimsier disposable masks can be hard to find. Luckily, there are quick and easy ways craft your own.

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Here’s what you need to know about DIY masks:

• These masks aren’t going to fully protect you from coronavirus. You should still be practicing social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from others in public and frequently washing your hands for 20 seconds each time.

Don’t “get an artificial sense of protection,” Deborah Birx, a public health expert and a leader of the White House’s coronavirus response team, said Thursday. “Remember, your eyes are not in the mask, so if you’re touching things and then touching your eyes, you’re exposing yourself in the same way.”

• A DIY mask, while not as effective as an N95 mask, still offers some protection from respiratory droplets that spread the virus.

• Fabric that is 100% cotton is comparable to surgical masks in effectiveness.

• If you can’t make your own mask, the New York City Department suggests covering your mouth and nose with a scarf or bandanna.

While the internet is full of suggestions on how to make your own mask (hey, use a coffee filter! A vacuum cleaner bag!), Christian Schrock, an infectious-disease doctor in Minneapolis, points to a version that simulates a surgical mask and doesn’t require sewing skills or even staples or glue.

“All masks are not created equally,” Schrock tells MarketWatch. “There are hundreds of DIY designs out there that do help somewhat to reduce the spread of the virus from the person who is not ill but still highly contagious.”

However, he adds, “this mask, since it is comparable to some surgical masks, offers reasonable protection for the wearer of the mask. It’s not an N95 or better and is not 100% protective.”


Here’s what you need to make the mask in 10 minutes, and a video demonstration via YouTube:

• Clean flat bed sheet with side hems (100% cotton, tight weave)

• Scissors

• Measuring tape (or an 8.5-inches-by-11 piece of paper to approximate)

• Large paper clip (or other malleable metal strip like floral wire or pipe cleaner) to make the nose pinch.

• Safety pins (or stapler)

Your finished mask should look like this:


You can reuse the mask. Place it in boiling water for five minutes. After you turn off the heat, “carefully remove the mask with tongs and place it on a clean paper towel,” Schrock says in the video.

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