The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending a universal masking strategy to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
However, the CDC is asking Americans to avoid medical grade masks, but instead use a cloth, like a bandana, for example.
The agency recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain – like, at grocery stores or pharmacies.
Rochester General Hospital Infectious Disease expert Dr. Emil Lesho said there is “definite value” in wearing a cloth when social distancing becomes difficult.
“Probably homemade masks are quite useful. And you know, then you should take them home every day probably and wash them every day, you know, wash them in bleach, bleach solution, dry them…that would help reuse them,” Lesho said. “You have to be careful though, that you don't get a false sense of security, by having the mask.”
That sentiment by Lesho is also echoed at the highest levels of government.
“And we don't want people to get an artificial sense of protection, because they're behind a mask,” said Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Deborah Birx. “Because if they're touching things, 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. So we don't want people to feel like, oh, I'm wearing a mask. I'm protected.”
The Surgeon General offers this advice: Before you use your cloth mask, wash your hands. Do not touch your face while wearing a facing covering, and avoid using medical grade masks if you are symptom free.
The CDC says 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.
We want to emphasize that the CDC is not recommending the use of medical grade or surgical grade masks and we want that to be used for our great medical people that are working so hard and doing some job,” President Trump said Friday.