Mask, face-covering guidance from the CDC, WHO


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With mandatory mask wearing becoming more common, CBS 17 wanted to help you understand how best to wear that face covering to make it the most effective.

The most important thing to know is the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization differentiate between fabric face coverings and medical masks.

Medical masks are made to a different standard and are more sophisticated than cloth face coverings.

Some people refer to a fabric or cloth face covering as a “mask” and this guidance is for those of us wearing cloth face coverings.

Before you put it on, you need to clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer because you don’t want to contaminate the covering before putting it over your face.

Before using the face covering, inspect to make sure it’s not damaged or has obvious signs of dirt on it.  If it has either, don’t use it.

The WHO says the most effective face covering is ideally made of three layers of fabric.

  • The outer layer should be water resistant to keep infected droplets from others out.
  • The mid layer of cloth should act as a filter
  • The inner layer should be water absorbent to keep your cough droplets from spreading to others

To wear the covering properly, place it on face covering your nose, mouth, and chin making sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.

While you are wearing the mask, don’t touch it to avoid contamination from any virus that may have been caught on the outside of the cloth.

If you do touch it while you are wearing it, make sure you wash your hands to remove any germs that may have transferred to your hand.

Before you remove the face covering, make sure your hands are clean.

Again, wash with sanitizer or soap and water.

As you take your face covering off, lean forward slightly, holding it by the loops to avoid touching the front of the mask.

Once your face covering is off, wash your hands again in case you accidental got them contaminated by anything on the mask.

If your mask is the disposable type – don’t reuse it.

Get rid of it by dropping it in a plastic bag, seal it and then throw it in a trash can.

If you are using a cloth face covering, never disinfect it by spraying chemicals on it. Some of those chemicals will remain in the cloth and you could be breathing in dangerous substances when you reuse that covering.

Instead, you need to wash your face covering either by hand or in a washing machine.

To effectively clean a cloth mask: 

  • Wash it with soap or detergent
  • Use hot water
  • Ideally, clean it daily

As people become more active following the lock-downs and stay-at-home orders, both the World Health Organization and the CDC have issued new guidance on mask-wearing in various situations like when dining out or attending activities where there will be others.

The CDC has listed activities where cloth face coverings are needed, ranking them from low risk to high risk.

They are:

Lowest risk: Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.

More risk: Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear cloth face coverings, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).

Higher risk: Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.

Highest risk: Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.

It also goes without saying, you should never share your face covering or mask with anyone else.

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