COVID-19: An Update on Masks

Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have discouraged most people from using cloth masks. Citing low efficacy and dwindling supplies, they have advised that masks only be worn by symptomatic individuals and healthcare workers. On April 2nd, the White House announced updates to the CDC’s policy.

An Update from the CDC

During last Friday’s COVID-19 press briefing, President Trump confirmed, “The CDC is recommending Americans wear a basic cloth or fabric mask.” He noted, however, that “this is voluntary.”

The organization updated its website to elaborate on the new policy. It reads, “We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus symptoms (‘asymptomatic’) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (‘pre-symptomatic’) can transmit the virus before showing symptoms.” This new evidence has prompted them to change their official policy and advise greater caution. While the CDC emphasizes the importance of social distancing, it also echoes the president in reminding readers that masks are a “voluntary public health measure.”

Wear a mask that meets these guidelines to reduce your COVID-19 risks.
You don’t need an actual surgical mask, but your cloth mask should meet these criteria.

Tips and Guidelines

Medical supplies remain critically low. The CDC reminds Americans that they do not need to use a surgical mask or other medical equipment to cover their face. In fact, doing so would only make it more challenging for healthcare workers to access these supplies.


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Your cloth face covering should meet the following criteria:

  • Fits snugly, but comfortably, against the face
  • Secured with ties or ear loops
  • Includes multiple layers
  • Allows for unrestricted breathing
  • Washable without damage or loss of integrity

Cloth face coverings are especially crucial in public spaces where six-foot social distancing is difficult or impossible. The CDC notes that children under 2 and anyone with breathing troubles should not wear masks. It also advises everyone to avoid touching their face while removing their mask and to wash their hands immediately after doing so.

You can create homemade masks easily with or without sewing. The CDC offers step-by-step guides for various different types of masks.

Safe social distancing remains at the heart of our effort to fight COVID-19. By avoiding unnecessary trips outside the house and adhering to public health guidelines, seniors can play a vital role.