County Recommends Wearing Face Masks & More!

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San Miguel County Department of Public Health and Environment announced it is joining state and federal recommendations that persons wear cloth face masks when in public settings.

Public Health Director Grace Franklin said “It makes sense that we use this additional tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Health officials say that cloth face coverings can help prevent transmitting COVID-19. Franklin added wearing the masks is important for everyone. “We know there’s a fair amount of disease spread happening from asymptomatic people to others, which is why we encourage everyone to wear masks outside the home.”

The virus travels through droplets such as mucus or saliva.

“When we cough or sneeze or when saliva spreads when speaking for example, the virus hits anything in that path, including you,” County Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Grundy said. “Then you wipe your mouth, or rub your eyes or scratch your nose, and you’ve invited the virus in.”

It’s especially important to wear the masks in small spaces where physical distancing can be more challenging.

Dr. Sharon Grundy

“Our grocery stores are smaller than in cities. Please only have one member of your family shop, wear a face mask, and respect physical distancing,” Dr. Grundy said.

With widespread, nationwide shortages of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), including surgical face masks, county health is encouraging the community to make their own.

“While we are not concerned at this point with our county supplies, we want to be prudent,” Franklin said.

In a short video, the US Surgeon General demonstrates how to take a clean t-shirt and make your own face mask. See that here.

“It’s surprisingly simple. I can’t sew, so I need simple,” Susan Lilly, County Public Information Officer said.

It is important that homemade face masks or bandanas are thick enough or have a protective layer to keep small particulates from penetrating the cloth.

“You can insert a piece of a coffee filter or a paper towel into a thinner piece of cloth to make it effective,” Dr. Grundy said.

Health officials emphasize staying at home and physical distancing are critical.

“We can’t stress that enough,” Dr. Grundy said. “But we can’t forget the basics either. Wash your hands and don’t touch your face!”

For those who want more options, the CDC provides detailed instructions on other methods to make your own mask using household items.

Children under age 2 should not wear face masks, nor should individuals with breathing problems.

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