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With the increase use of cloth face masks, Risk Management and Safety has developed a resource page that details the purpose, best practices, and helpful tips. The cloth face mask resource page provides tips for wearing masks and instructions for reuse and washing. Visitors can also get detailed instructions on how to make your own mask, including no-sew and improvised options, as well as helpful links from the Centers for Disease Controls and other universities. A one-page quick guide is also available.

The Centers for Disease Controls, or CDC, recommends the use of cloth face masks in public places to help limit disease transmission. According to the CDC, “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 masks help limit disease by providing a barrier when a person coughs, sneezes or talks. Cloth face masks are not intended to prevent the wearer from contracting disease. They are only intended to limit the spread of disease. Cloth face masks should not be used by children under two years old and should not be worn by anyone with breathing problems or that is incapacitated or unconscious. Wearing a cloth face mask is just one more step to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases and help flatten the reported case curve. Other protective measures to follow include:

• Staying at home as much as possible

• Practicing social distancing in public

• Properly and frequently washing your hands

• Disinfecting commonly touch surfaces

Cloth face masks are different from surgical masks and N95 respirators. Surgical masks create a fluid-resistant barrier and are not designed to seal tightly around the breathing area. They should only be used by designated individuals in high-risk situations. N95 respirators should only be used by someone certified to do so who has undergone proper fit-testing, training and medical evaluations.

Both surgical masks and N95 respirators are considered critical supplies. Due to a nationwide shortage of these supplies, the CDC is urging that both N95 respirators and surgical masks be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders only. Cloth face masks can be made, purchased or improvised from common household materials. The material used should be machine washable and dried. Cloth face masks should contain multiple fabric layers but still allow un-restricted breathing.