April 13, 2020

Cloth face masks can help stem spread of coronavirus, says CDC

The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission of COVID-19.

For agriculture this would include retail outlets, direct marketing venues and workplaces where employees are close together, such as a packing area. Simple cloth face coverings will slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Customers, delivery workers, and others coming to the farm or retail outlets should also wear face coverings.

According to the CDC:

“Cloth face coverings should fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric, allow for breathing without restriction, and be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

“Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

“Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

“The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Simple face masks “should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. A washing machine should suffice in properly washing a face covering.”

“Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.”

Go to www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html for more information.

The CDC has several examples of how to make a homemade face mask. Shown above is one from a T-shirt (see below).

— Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist, University of Delaware