Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth face covering when leaving home from now on during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s the recommendation issued Thursday by Bay Area health officials.
Health officials do not recommend that people wear medical masks, such as N-95 masks or surgical masks. Those masks are in short supply and need to be preserved for health care workers and first responders.
The cloth face coverings do not have to be hospital grade, according to the recommendation. Bandanas, fabric masks and neck gaiters are sufficient. Face coverings can also be fashioned out of T-shirts, sweatshirts, scarves or towels.
“In addition to shelter-in-place and social distancing requirements, wearing a mask in public is an important tool to stop the community spread of this disease,” San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow said in a statement. “People with no or mild symptoms may have coronavirus and not know it. Wearing face coverings helps protect others from exposure.”
People should always wash their hands before and after putting on a face covering and if they have to adjust it. The coverings should be washed frequently with hot water and detergent and dried with high heat, according to the recommendation.
In addition to wearing a face covering when outside, health officials are reminding people to stay home, practice physical distancing and frequently wash their hands to prevent the spread of the virus.
As of Thursday afternoon, there were at least 74 coronavirus-related deaths and more than 2,800 confirmed cases in the Bay Area's nine counties.