Craft lovers are being encouraged to put their skills to good use and create cloth masks to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and flatten the curve.
With store-bought face masks in short supply, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided some simple guidelines and advice for creating your own fabric mask at home – and even if you’re not the crafty type it’s fairly simply to do.
Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams shared his tips via a YouTube video recently, and explained that all you need is an old scarf, a bandana, hand towel or old t-shirt to help you stay protected during those quick supermarket visits.
Simply grab your fabric of choice, fold the sides a few times into the middle and place a rubber band over each end. Then use the rubber bands to secure the mask over your ears – it’s as easy as that!
People have since followed Adams’ advice and got on board the idea of creating their own fabric face masks, with some even offering up additional tips or suggestions. Some said if rubber bands are in short supply hair ties are the next best option, while others recommended stapling or sewing the sides together to help the mask stay securely in place.
“I tried this technique today with an old tote bag and some elastic hair bands,” @SiddharthaNaithani commented on the YouTube video. “It worked well and looked reasonably sharp, considering. Everyone stay safe!”
Scientists have also tested the efficiency of several materials to find out which provides the best protection for blocking outgoing germs from coughs or sneezes of an infected person and, according to The New York Post vacuum cleaner bags, layers of 600-count pillowcases and fabric similar to flannel pyjamas were the most effective. Meanwhile, scarves and bandannas provided the least amount of protection, capturing only a small percentage of particles.
The CDC tips video comes as the organisation urged people to wear cloth face coverings in public areas where it’s difficult to abide by social distancing guidelines, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. While they won’t provide the same protection as surgical grade masks, the CDC claimed the masks will help to slow the spread of the virus and help people who don’t know they have Covid-19 from transmitting it to others.
“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,” the CDC said. “The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders.”
While online marketplace Etsy has also got on board with the idea with CEO Josh Silverman advising sellers to help out where they can by turning their attention to creating the items, due to an increase in demand for fabric face masks in recent weeks.
“We believe that the Etsy community is uniquely positioned to address this crucial need during a global health crisis,” he said in a blog published on the website. “We hope that increasing the availability of fabric, non-medical grade face masks from Etsy sellers will allow more medical and surgical masks to reach the people who need them the most: the front-line health care workers.”
Silverman did note however, that the fabric masks aren’t a substitute for medical-grade equipment and Etsy sellers must not advertise the products as medical devices, or that they are “designed or intended to mitigate, prevent, treat diagnose, or cure any disease or health condition”.