Face Masks Go Public: Wear and Care

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For several weeks, Americans have radically adjusted their lives as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Guidance on how to prevent the spread of the virus is ever present, and has centered around a few core best practices: physical distancing, hand washing, cough/sneeze etiquette and wearing masks.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home and practice physical distancing. If unavoidable, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that face masks need to be worn when out in public.

“Wearing a face mask is important when going to places where it can be difficult to physical distance, like grocery stores,” said Mike Washington, Infection Control Coordinator at Archbold Memorial Hospital.

The CDC also recommends that fabric face masks should be washed regularly to ensure that they stay sanitary. “Masks need to be washed at the end of every day,” said Washington. “The masks can be machine or hand washed.”

To hand wash a mask, wet the mask and rub with dish soap until you have a lather. Then rinse and either hang dry or let it dry on a sanitized surface. If masks are cleaned using a washing machine, regular laundry detergent can be used. When washing a face mask, temperature matters. Using a warm water setting helps remove bacteria without weakening the fabric. “It’s important to make sure that masks are fully dry before wearing them,” added Washington.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus. For local information regarding COVID-19, visit www.archbold.org/covid-19.