Keep Masking, It's Important!

As state and local communities proceed through "Back on Track Indiana" phases and plans, it is important for people to remain vigilant at making safety a priority.

Although mask-wearing has never been mandated locally, the Centers for Disease Control continues to strongly recommend wearing masks in public settings, especially where social-distancing measures are difficult or impossible to maintain.

Businesses, retail stores and restaurants have been opening with restrictions and precautions in place, playgrounds may re-open and some entertainment venues, such as movie theaters, may expand capacity.

These transitions to society's next normal are exciting; however, congregating in many of the situations mentioned above makes physical distancing -- staying six feet apart -- more difficult.

But don't worry, there are several ways to keep you and others safe in public and in-person social situations. 

  • Wear a mask in most public situations or when you're socializing with others that don't live in your immediate household. Remember, a mask should never substitute for practicing physical distancing. (More info on how to make and wear a mask is below)
  • Practice physical distancing with anyone not in living in your household
  • Analyze public and social situations for safety measures and feel confident to not partake if the proper guidelines aren't being followed
  • Strictly follow proper hygiene practices by washing your hands frequently and covering coughs and sneezes
  • Regularly disinfect surfaces, especially those that are frequently touched, in home, work and social situations

“We can't control what happens in public places or the actions of others; however, we can control our own actions. Through this, the public, and each citizen, has directly contributed to the success of keeping coronavirus spread manageable. Those efforts should be celebrated and they must continue."

Why Is It Important To Wear A Mask In Public?

With an ever-changing landscape surrounding this virus, Columbus Regional Health cautions our community with the following messages:

  • The virus is still very prevalent in our community
  • We do not have a vaccine available
  • We do not know what level of natural immunity is present in our population
  • Testing capabilities, while improved, are still not widespread
  • Improvements have been made but adequate contact tracing methods for reliable contact tracking is still challenging, particularly as the number of cases increase.

"Everyone’s actions have helped to reduce the transmission of COVID 19 in our communities. Governor Holcomb has set out plans to return life to as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our community and those that are most vulnerable. I encourage everyone to embrace those practices that will help keep us safe.”  added Dr. Sonderman.

Masks are available at some retailers and through a local cooperative of sewers called Southern Indiana Mask-Makers; however, face covering can be made with everyday products around the home. Columbus Regional Health is sharing our favorite DIY tip for making a cloth mask at home.

"The one thing that cloth masks do well is they stop somebody from putting particles into the air," said Daniel Noel, Director of Clinical Talent at Columbus Regional Health. "Even right now as I talk, little particles are coming out and they're floating around in the air in front of me. If I have a cloth mask on, that cloth mask is going to stop those particles. So, if I had COVID-19, it would stop the particles from going into the air for somebody else to breathe in."

How To Make Your Own Mask

The CDC lists multiple ways to create a mask on its website, but the no-sew method of cutting up a shirt is a fast and simple way to make a mask.

Step 1: Cut off the bottom 7-8 inches of a shirt.

Cut off bottom of T-shirt at 7 to 8 inches.

Step 2: Cut out 6-7 inches of the material as shown, then cut the tie strings.

Cut sides of cloth, then cut strings.

Step 3: Position mask over face and tie strings behind head and neck.

Position mask over face and tie strings behind head and neck.

And there you have it! The CDC does recommend wearing multiple layers of fabric if possible. The organization also published a video showing an alternative method for making a mask with a T-shirt and two rubber bands. This technique creates a mask with multiple layers of fabric.

How to Wear a Cloth Face Covering

Cloth face coverings should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric (see CDC video above)
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

Should cloth face coverings be washed or otherwise cleaned regularly? How regularly?

Yes. They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use.

How does one safely sterilize/clean a cloth face covering?

A washing machine or hand-washing should suffice in properly cleansing a face covering.

How does one safely remove a used cloth face covering?

Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.

For more DIY mask ideas visit the CDC page Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19.

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