On Sunday morning, I woke up to a bouncing boy. Mick, our 10 year old, woke up determined to learn how to make a face mask. Talk about a COVID life moment!

Never in my life have I felt the need to wear a face mask, let alone figure out how to make one with supplies at home!

The night before, as I worried myself to sleep, I watched YouTube videos on this very subject. The kids weren’t around but I had heard that wearing a face mask is something we need to start doing.

I spent over an hour watching people from around the world folding bandanas and scarves or cutting coffee filters. One video used paper towels, a piece of paper, aluminum foil and tape to make a face mask. My favorite so far is made with shop towels, a paper clip, staples and rubber bands.

I do not consider myself a doomsday prepper, but while I researched I thought, “I can do that. We will be just fine. This will keep us alive with the cockroaches.” That panic-infused research relaxed my anxiety and I was able to fall asleep.

When Mick bounced in, I knew exactly what supplies and video he needed for his early morning craft.

My last trip shopping (a while ago now) I had purchased several bandanas. He picked a neon pink one and found two of his sister’s ponytails. With a few quick folds, Mick was masked up and ready to go — nowhere — since he isn’t allowed to shop! But he was ready!

Shannon grumbled her way down the stairs, wrapped in her cream colored fuzzy blanket. Quickly she too got into the project and sported a traditional red bandana mask.

When Jerry went to SuperOne later that day, the kids made sure he was masked up. Instead of looping the hair ties around his ears, he opted for a bandit style and walked around the store in a neon green bandana tied at the back of his head. I’m sure he looked like a model with his red hair popping, highlighted by the neon green.

When he got home I asked what wearing the mask was like.

“Well, I think people understood I wasn’t trying to rob the joint,” he said with a laugh. “Actually, there were a lot of people wearing masks.”

Previously, Americans were told not to wear facemasks unless they were sick, working with a sick person who could not wear a mask or in a healthcare setting. On Friday, President Donald Trump announced that the CDC is now recommending the use of cloth face coverings.

The best face masks are N-95 respirators but these are desperately needed by healthcare workers and if you have them at home, you are encouraged to donate them to an area hospital.

Surgical masks or N-95 respirators prevent illness from passing through the filter thus preventing the transmission of the virus.

Wearing a cloth (100 percent cotton is best) mask does not have these same filter capabilities but it does help. It is a visual cue for others to keep their distance and a reminder to wash your hands. If someone sneezes or coughs on/near you, it can help prevent some of those germs entering your body.

The primary benefit to wearing a cloth mask is that the wearer is able to protect those around them. If they cough or sneeze, or even breathe, germs and respiratory droplets are caught in the fabric. This is important as with the novel coronavirus many people do not experience symptoms or are contagious before their symptoms start.

If you wear a mask, it is important that you do so properly. Masks are good for one use, so be sure to throw it in the trash or wash your face mask after each use. Do not touch the front of it when you are wearing or removing it as this will transfer any germs that may have been blocked onto your hands and possibly into your body.

Wearing a face mask does not mean you can stop washing your hands or stop social distancing. Instead, this is the next step in protecting yourself, your family, friends and our community.

On April 3, on the NPR website, an article was published “Coronavirus FAQs: Is A Homemade Mask Effective? And What's The Best Way To Wear One?” I would recommend taking a look if you have questions. This article has a lot of great links, too, including no sew mask tutorials.

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