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Coronavirus Information

Posted on: April 6, 2021

Face Coverings: Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

Illustrated graphic showing various people correctly wearing face masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of cloth face coverings for every person over the age of 2 who is traveling into public spaces. Cloth face covers work as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks or raises their voice. This is called source control.

This recommendation is based on what researchers know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies. These studies show cloth face coverings reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.

CDC recommendations for face coverings.Who Should Wear One

The CDC recommends everyone 2 years and older wear a cloth face covering in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures can’t be maintained. In addition, it is critical the following persons always wear a face covering around other people, regardless of distancing:

  • People who know or think they might have COVID-19.
  • Caregivers of people with COVID-19.

While cloth face coverings are strongly encouraged to reduce the spread of COVID-19, CDC recognizes there are specific instances when wearing a cloth face covering may not be feasible. Cloth face coverings should not be worn by:

  • Children younger than 2 years old.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing.
  • Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.

Keeping it Clean

Cloth face coverings should be washed after each use. It is important to always remove face coverings correctly and wash your hands after handling or touching a used face covering.

  • Face coverings can be washed with regular laundry.
  • Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water temperature for the cloth.
  • Washing by hand:
    • Prepare a bleach solution using five tablespoons (one-third cup) of household bleach per gallon of room temperature water, or
    • Four teaspoons of household bleach per quart of room temperature water.
    • Check the label to see if your bleach is intended for disinfection. Some bleach products, such as those designed for safe use on colored clothing, may not be suitable for disinfection. Ensure the bleach product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
    • Soak the face covering in the bleach solution for 5 minutes.
    • Rinse thoroughly with cool or room temperature water.
  • Make sure to completely dry cloth face covering after washing.
    • Dryer: Use the highest heat setting and leave in the dryer until completely dry.
    • Air dry: Lay flat and allow to completely dry. If possible, place the cloth face covering in direct sunlight.

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