What does the CDC say about reusing and washing cloth face masks?

Masks are a necessity and scarce, and thus, the masks need to be used after washing.

COVID-19 disease and the year 2020 have brought so many changes in our lives. The coronavirus has led to the deadly disease of COVID-19 that has spread in all parts of the world, claiming millions of lives. To stop the spread of disease until there is a vaccine for eradicating the virus, sanitizers, face masks, social distancing, and self-isolation. To stop the spread of the virus, it is required that we do not gather in large crowds or touch people like shaking hands with them or even spit on grounds. Till then it is only with the masks that one stops the spread of disease and protects oneself while stepping out for running the errands or even do the regular chores. Wearing a mask for long hours makes it difficult to breathe and talk, but a well-fitted mask made of good quality material solves this issue. For the general public, a face shield or cloth mask will be sufficient, but for the essential workers, doctors, nurses, and emergency responders, the need to wear an N95 mask is mandatory. NIOSH and WHO  have made it clear that they need to wear N95 masks as a preventive measure while in the medical centers and responding to the COVID-19 patients. 

What are cloth face masks?

 A cloth mask is made of cloth that can be made at home or by any manufacturing unit. No license or certifications are required to make or sell the cloth masks. A cloth mask traps the droplets or vapor released when the wearer talks, sneezes, or coughs. If all wear the cloth mask spread of the virus by asymptomatic ( people without symptoms of coronavirus yet, infected by it) people can be prevented. In public settings, it is highly recommended to wear cloth masks for preventing the disease. 

Can cloth face masks work positively to slow the spread of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes deadly diseases COVID-19? 

When the pandemic broke, nothing much was known about the virus or ways to eradicate or stop the spread of the disease. The medical experts and researchers from all parts of the globe did rigorous studies and developed information about the disease. Initially, face masks’ significance to act as a barrier between the virus and the host was not known. It was not known earlier that people with COVID-19 could not have symptoms, and such cases were referred to as asymptomatic cases. In both cases, the spread of the virus continues to remain the same. In the countries where from the initial stages, face masks, testing, and isolation were made a norm, the spread of the disease has slowed down tremendously. Cloth face masks, along with regular washing of hands and other preventive measures like social distancing, can slow the spread of the virus. With research on the disease was done, it was discovered that face masks could prove their might in stopping the virus’s spread. The World Health Organizations and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended using face masks to stop the spread of the virus and break the channel of virus contamination.  

What does the CDC  say about washing and reusing face masks?

Surgical and N95 masks went short in supply and were reserved for the health care providers; cloth masks are used widely. However, it is important to reuse the cloth face mask as resources are limited and sending the used masks to the landfills will further aggravate the issue of pollution; also, to cater to the huge needs of people it is not possible to provide all the citizens the regular cloth face masks for single-time use. Even several companies started producing masks and even distributed the masks for free still, there was a dearth of masks. Many people, due to their financial limitations, could not buy masks. Thus it was essential to conserve the masks. Therefore CDC recommends extended use of cloth masks but without compromising the safety of the wearer. CDC clearly mentions that the masks should be washed thoroughly and sanitized after every wear. CDC further clarifies that once the mask is torn and doesn’t fit well, it should be discarded. The CDC mentions a combination of approaches to conserve the supplies while keeping the citizens’ safety as its prime concern.   

 CDC mentions that they use multiple masks at the same time. Every time one steps out, encounter people, or has to travel in crowded places, a fresh and sanitized cloth mask should be worn. Even if someone around you coughs or sneezes, then immediately remove the mask and wear another mask. After the encounter with the people or outing, also remove the mask. Store the mask in a plastic pouch and keep it  away from other stuff. Reuse the same mask after you wash the wearer must sanitize it. Even before removing the mask and wearing the new mask it is important that the wearer sanitizes their hands thoroughly. It is also wise not to touch the eyes, or nose while wearing or removing the mask. The mask that you wash reuses them after it dries thoroughly. Importantly, the masks should not be shared as it is a very unhealthy practice. Each person should wear their own mask and use it as recommended by CDC and manufacturers.    

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