Health officials ask residents to cover nose, mouth with cloth when leaving home

Health officials now asking residents to cover nose, mouth with cloth when leaving home

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Bay Area health officials are now recommending that residents cover their nose and mouth with cloth, such as bandanas, fabric masks or neck gaiters, when leaving the home, per new guidance from the California Dept. of Public Health.

Face coverings do not have to be hospital grade, as those are in limited supply and must be preserved for health care workers and first responders. Acceptable face coverings need to cover the nose and mouth and can be made of a variety of cloth materials, factory-made or hand-sewn, or can be improvised using bandanas, scarves, t-shirts, sweatshirts or towels, according to a San Mateo County statement. They should also be washed, ideally after each use, frequently with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle, and they should have a dedicated laundry bag or bin, officials said.

Up until recently, local officials have not recommended large-scale face covering but “circumstances have changed,” the county’s statement said.

“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,” says Dr. Scott Morrow, San Mateo County health officer. “People with no or mild symptoms may have coronavirus and not know it. Wearing face coverings helps protect others from exposure.”

Health officials stressed that residents continue staying home, and when leaving for essential activities to practice frequent hand-washing and social distancing.

Photo credit: CDC