Are Homemade Masks Effective Against COVID-19?

As frontliners and health workers struggle to meet the oncoming surge capacity of COVID-19 patients, personal protective equipment (PPE) is proving to be very limited in terms of supplies. Because of this, a lot of doctors and nurses are rewearing masks that should only be single use, with some opting to not wear them at all.

As a result, an increasing number of people are also starting to consider using homemadeface masks. But are these enough to protect people? Who should be wearing them, anyway?

Homemade Face Masks

Just recently, current U.S. President Donald Trump stated in a press conference that scarves can be used to cover our faces, saying that it’s safe. And even before that, an increasing number of Americans have already resorted to using fabric to cover their faces whenever they need to go outside.

To that end, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a list of strategies that can help people optimize what limited supply of face mask that we have. Per the statement, homemade face masks should only be used as a last resort, when nothing else is available.

“Homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect health care personnel (HCP) is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option,” the CDC wrote.

Some, however, aren’t so quick to agree because they believe having something that covers your face is better than having zero protection, especially when there is an absolute need to go outside.

“Homemade masks or scarves are good at catching your respiratory droplets if you are sick. It’s not necessarily a great protection if you’re not sick, though,” Amy Shah, integrative medicine doctor, said.

But who should be wearing these face masks, anyway?

Per CDC, it’s not necessary unless you’re sick, saying that “facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.”

“We need to make sure our healthcare workers have masks first,” Shah said.

Per experts, the best thing to do now is to just stay inside and always wash your hands properly. It’s the least we can do.

N95 Mask and COVID-19 The U.S. Strategic National Stockpile held 12 million N95 respirators and 30 million surgical masks, which health authorities said would cover only 1 percent of what the country needs in a pandemic. Pixabay

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