Face masks: make one, don’t take one

April 06, 2020 | by Sheri Scott, MBA
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Para ver esta información en español, haga clic aquí.

As Edward-Elmhurst Health continues to respond to and prepare for continued increases in the spread of COVID-19, one truth has become so apparent. We are fortunate to have all of you behind us. Our teams have been overwhelmed and so moved by the outpouring of support we have seen over the last several weeks from the members of our communities. There aren’t enough words to express our thanks.

As the numbers of COVID-19 patients continue to climb, we will continue to need your help. The American Hospital Association (AHA), American Medical Association (AMA) and American Nurses Association (ANA) issued a statement last week regarding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC's) recommendation that we all wear a mask when going out in public. They, along with all of us at Edward-Elmhurst Health, ask that the public be mindful of the need to ensure that N95 and medical-grade masks remain prioritized for our healthcare workers — doctors, nurses and other workers on the front line who are fighting this highly contagious virus face-to-face.

Our teams are working around the clock to search for and acquire the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that our staff need in order to stay safe. We agree with the AHA, AMA and ANA that these brave workers should take priority when it comes to making sure we have enough medical-grade masks. We hope that our community will work with us and use non-medical mask options as you follow the CDC’s masking recommendation.

Experts tell us that wearing a mask in public is beneficial for two reasons:

  1. Masks can decrease the chance that a carrier of coronavirus who has no symptoms spreads droplets containing the virus. They protect everyone around you from you!
  2. Secondly, masks can help keep your hands and fingers away from your mouth and nose — potentially helping to reduce your risk.

And masks are only effective if you’re practicing good social distancing, as well. That means staying at least 6 feet away from others. So why is this? Aerosolized virus can linger in the air, whereas large droplets are heavy enough to fall and land on surfaces. Masks aren’t likely to keep you from breathing in the tiny particles that are in the air when people around you breathe out. They will, however, stop the larger droplets that result from a cough or sneeze.

Homemade fabric masks or scarves are a good idea, for example, when you make a trip to the grocery store. A few things to keep in mind:

  • The tighter the weave of fabric, the more effective the mask.
  • Masks should be snug against your face.
  • Don’t touch the outside of the mask when you remove it; be sure to wash your hands afterwards.
  • Wash cloth masks at least once a day with warm or hot water and laundry detergent.

You can find several good videos on YouTube that will walk you through a simple process for making a mask.

See the CDC’s recommendations for the use of cloth face coverings.

Read CNN Health’s “How to make your own face mask (whether you know how to sew or not).”

Get more information about coronavirus from Healthy Driven Chicago.

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, our top priority is the safety and protection of patients, staff, physicians and the community. For updates on our planning and response efforts as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19, please check EEHealth.org/coronavirus.

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