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CDC advises everyone in the United States to wear cloth face coverings

Transmission can occur when people are speaking, coughing, or sneezing, and even if those individuals are not exhibiting symptoms. 
Photo: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

President Trump has announced that everyone in the United States should wear a face covering when they are in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The president's new sentiment aligns with the updated information on the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website. The CDC, "recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission."

The CDC notes that new studies have shown that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms - "asymptomatic” - as well as those who are “pre-symptomatic” can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. As a result, the virus can be spread between people interacting in close proximity to one another. Transmission can occur when people are speaking, coughing, or sneezing, and even if those individuals are not exhibiting symptoms. 

With this in mind, the CDC emphasizes that the physical distance of six feet is still crucial to slowing the spread of the virus. It notes that the cloth covering can help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  However, these recommended cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators, which the CDC notes, "are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance."

The CDC adds that these coverings may be fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure. 

Currently, the British Columbia CDC states that, "It may be less effective to wear a mask in the community when a person is not sick themselves. Masks may give a person a false sense of security and are likely to increase the number of times a person will touch their own face (e.g., to adjust the mask)"

It also notes that, "The use of a homemade mask should only be considered by members of the public who are symptomatic or caring for someone who is symptomatic as an interim measure if commercial masks are not available. However, Dr. Henry has remarked that the province is looking at information supporting the use of masks on a broader scale. 

Here is a video the CDC shared to show residents how to fashion these coverings themselves.