Coronavirus Advisory: New advice on wearing masks, sponsored by Ochsner Baton Rouge

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has offered new guidance about the use of homemade masks for the general public. It is important to note that the use of cloth masks may offer added protection as evidence shows that asymptomatic people can spread COVID-19 to others.

What is the recommendation for masks in a community setting?

CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting. This is to protect people around you if you are infected but do not have symptoms.

When should you wear a mask?

A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people are in a community setting, especially in situations where you may be near people. These settings include grocery stores and pharmacies. These face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing. Cloth face coverings are especially important to wear in public in areas of widespread COVID-19 illness.

What kind of mask should you wear?

Surgical masks and N95 respirators should be reserved for healthcare workers or other medical first responders, as recommended by CDC guidance. A cloth mask using household items is appropriate to wear in community settings.

How should cloth masks be cleaned?

Cloth masks should be regularly washed. You should clean your cloth masks using detergent in a washing machine at the warmest temperature recommended for the fabric. Dry the mask fully using the hot cycle. Frequency of cleaning is dependent on how often you’re wearing your mask, but it’s recommended that you wash them after each use.

Be sure to wash your hands after handling used masks and avoid touching your eyes, nose and face when removing or putting on your mask.

What is the most important advice we can offer people?

The best way to stay healthy and keep people safe is to stay home. Utilize delivery/pickup services for essential errands or limit them as much as possible. Continue to practice social distancing, even while wearing masks.

The most important precaution people can take is continuing to wash your hands, or using hand sanitizer, often.