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Homemade face masks, CDC and coronavirus: Everything you need to know


N95 face masks are currently defective.

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Visit the WHO Web site for the latest updates and information about the coronavirus pandemic.

Are you still at risk for coronavirus if you wear a homemade mask in public? What is the Government's exact recommendation? Why are N95 masks considered better?

As cases in the US wave and new data on the transmission of COVID-19 disease emerge, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an updated set of guidelines this week it carries facial coatings in public including facial coatings of fabric made at home.

We tell you exactly what it means, as well as the differences between them and N95 breathing masks and a note on sterilization. If you are looking for more information about to make your own face mask at home we also have resources for you.

What the CDC says about homemade face masks today

The most important takeaway from the CDC's message is that covering your face when you leave the house is a "voluntary public health measure" and must not replace proven precautions such as self-quarantine at home, social distancing and carefully washing hands .

CDC is the United States Agency for Protocol and Protection against COVID-19 the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The words of the CDC recommend "to wear fabric face coatings in public environments where other social distance measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially areas with significant communica- tional-based transmission." (The emphasis is on CDCs.)

The institute says that you should not seek medical or surgical quality masks for yourself and to leave N95 respirator masks to healthcare professionals, and instead select basic cloth or fabric coatings that can be washed and washed. reused. In the past, the agency considered homemade face masks as a last resort in hospitals and medical facilities.

Continue reading about CDC's original homemade mask setting.

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The big face mask debate

For several weeks, a debate has raged over how homemade face masks should be used in hospital environments and even by individuals in public. It comes at a time when available stock of certified N95 respiratory masks – the necessary protective equipment used by healthcare professionals fighting the coronavirus pandemic – has reached critical lows.

Read more : How to make a face mask or cover at home

If you have a selection of N95 masks on hand, consider donating them to a healthcare facility or hospital near you. This is how donates hand protection products and protective equipment to hospitals in need – and why you should also refrain from making your own hand cleaning device .

In a medical setting, handmade masks are not scientifically proven to be equally effective in protecting you against coronavirus. Why not? The answer is about how N95 masks are manufactured, certified and worn. It does not matter if health centers are forced to adopt a "better than nothing" strategy.

N95 masks versus other masks: Face Care and Certification

N95 respirator masks are different from other types of surgical masks and face masks because they create a tight seal between the respirator and the face, which helps to filter at least 95% of airborne particles. They can include an exhalation valve to make it easier to breathe while wearing them. Coronaviruses can linger in the air for up to 30 minutes and are transmitted from person to person through steam (breath), talking, coughing, sneezing, saliva and transmitting over commonly affected objects.

Each model of N95 mask from each manufacturer is certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. N95 surgical breathing masks undergo a secondary approval by the Food and Drug Administration for use in surgery – they protect better practitioners from exposure to substances such as the patient's blood.

In US healthcare settings, N95 masks must also undergo a mandatory adjustment test using a protocol established by OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, prior to use. This video from manufacturer 3M shows some of the key differences between standard surgical masks and N95 masks. Homemade masks are unregulated, although some hospital websites point to preferred designs that they suggest using.

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An example of a hand-sewn face mask pattern.


Handmade Face Masks: Cotton and Elastic

The DIY homemade face mask movement that gives designs and instructions for sew face masks at home says you use materials like multiple layers of cotton, elastic bands and plain thread.

The patterns contain basically simple folds with elastic straps to fit over your ears. Some are more contoured to resemble the shape of N95 masks. Still others contain pockets where you can add "filter media" that you can buy elsewhere.

It is the belief of people who make their own masks that adding filters will help protect against transmission, especially with larger particles from coughing and sneezing.

Be aware that there is no strong scientific evidence that the masks will fit the face tightly enough to form a strong seal, or that the filter material inside will work effectively. Standard surgical masks, for example, are known to leave gaps. That is why the CDC emphasizes other precautions, such as washing your hands and distancing yourself from others.

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What homemade masks were intended for first (not COVID-19)

Many websites sharing patterns and instructions for homemade masks were created as a fashionable way to prevent the wearer from inhaling large particles, such as car exhaust, air pollution and pollen during the allergy season. They were not intended as a way to protect you from acquiring COVID-19. However, the CDC believes that they can help slow down the spread of coronavirus as other types of masks are no longer available.

One site, CraftPassion, contains this disclaimer:

Due to coronavirus attacks all over the world, I have received many requests on how to add nonwoven filters to the face mask. Disclaimer: This face mask is not intended to replace the surgical face mask, it is a contingency plan for those who have no use of surgical mask on the market. Proper use of a surgical mask is still the best way to prevent viral infection.

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3M / Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt / CNET

CDC's original approach to home-made masks

Together with the World Health Organization, CDC is the authoritative body that sets guidelines for the medical community to follow. CDC's position on home-made masks has changed throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 24, recognizing the lack of N95 masks, a page on the CDC website suggested five options if a healthcare provider, or HCP, does not have access to an N95 mask.

Here is what a CDC website had to say about homemade masks then:

In settings where face masks are not available, HCPs can use homemade masks (eg bandana, scarf) to treat patients with COVID -19 as a last resort [our emphasis]. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE because their ability to protect HCP is unknown. Be careful when considering this option. Homemade masks should preferably be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (which extends to the chin or below) and the face sides.

However, another page on the CDC website appeared to make an exception for conditions where no N95 masks are available, including homemade masks. (NIOSH stands for National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.)

HCP use of non-NIOSH approved masks or homemade masks

In settings where N95 respiratory protection is so limited that routinely practiced standards of care to wear N95 respiratory protection and equivalent or higher protective devices are no longer possible and surgical masks are not available, as a last resort it may be necessary for HCP to use masks that have never been evaluated or approved by NIOSH or home made masks. These masks may be considered to treat patients with COVID-19, tuberculosis, measles and varicella. However, one should be careful when considering this option.

The CDC advocates for all civilians to wear their faces when they leave the house.

Masks and Sterilization

Another difference between home-made masks and factory-made masks from brands such as 3M, Kimberly-Clark and Prestige Ameritech has to do with sterilization, which is crucial in hospital settings. With handmade face masks, there is no guarantee that the mask is sterile or free from an environment with coronavirus – but measures such as washing the masks can help fight it.

CDC guidelines have long considered N95 masks contaminated after each use and recommend that they be discarded. However, the serious shortage of N95 masks has led many hospitals to take extreme measures in an effort to protect doctors and nurses, such as trying to sanitize masks between uses. A medical center in Nebraska, for example, is experimenting with ultraviolet light treatments to sterilize N95 masks.

In a potentially game-changing move, the FDA used its emergency powers on March 29 to approve the use of a new mask sterilization method from an Ohio-based nonprofit called Battelle. The association has begun sending its machines, which can sterilize up to 80,000 N95 masks a day, to New York, Boston, Seattle and Washington, DC. The machines use "vapor phase hydrogen peroxide" to disinfect masks, which allows them to be reused up to 20 times.

Fabrics or face masks for home use can be sterilized by washing them in the washing machine.

The Danger: Not Knowing the Borders

It is worth emphasizing again that sewing your own face mask cannot prevent you from acquiring coronavirus in a high-risk situation, such as staying in tight places or continuing to meet with friends or family who don't already live with you.

Because the corona virus can be transmitted from someone who appears to be symptom-free but who actually harbor the virus, it is crucial for the health and well-being of people over 65 and those with underlying conditions to know what proven measures are helping to keep everyone safe – Quarantine, social distancing and hand washing are the most important, according to experts.

For more information, here are eight common myths about coronavirus health how sanitizes your house and car and answers to all your questions about coronavirus and COVID-19 .

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