‘One more tool in your toolbox’: More people wearing masks during coronavirus pandemic

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AKRON, Ohio (WJW)– As the state of Ohio faces the projected peak of the coronavirus pandemic here, more people are following the recommendation of the CDC as well as state and local health officials by wearing masks or face coverings.

From hand-sewn fabric masks to loosely fitting bandannas, to homemade masks crafted from T-shirts, there is no end to the online tutorials of how to make your own.

Gov. Mike DeWine, and Ohio Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton are among those wearing the homemade variety.

At the same time, they are encouraging everyone to leave the medical grade N95 masks and even the rectangular surgical masks for health care professionals.

“This is not something we should be scared about; it’s just something that in society it shows respect for one another that we are trying to do our best to slow the spread,” said Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

Summit County Health Commissioner Donna Skoda is also wearing a sewn cloth mask.

“I’ve seen more and more folks wearing coverings and the issue is these next two to three weeks are critical; this is where all the modeling has said we are going to hit a peak and we are going to have a surge,” said Skoda.

Among the tutorials for creating a homemade mask from cloth or even a towel is one from the U.S. Attorney General, and while the homemade face coverings are another tool in the arsenal to slow the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus they should not be considered a fool-proof prevention.

“It’s not 100 percent; it’s about 80 percent effective but that 80 percent like our Swiss cheese layers of everything we are doing to stay home adds up collectively,” said Dr. Acton.

“It might give some people some reassurance and they might feel better but never let it give you a false sense of security. It is one more tool in your toolbox to make sure you don’t get COVID-19,” said Skoda, who also recommends washing the cloth masks regularly.

And while encouraging the use of face coverings, health experts are also recommending that you still practice all of the other measures they have been recommending while wearing them.

“It is just as important that you cover your cough, even with a face mask on, that you cover your sneezes with a face mask on; you continue to wash your hands, that you continue to socially distance and let me say to you socially distancing yourself from others is the absolute best thing you can do and stay home,” said Skoda.

Links with tutorials on how to make reliable homemade masks are available at the Ohio Department of Health and the CDC websites.

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