Social distancing and staying home are still the best things you can do to flatten the curve and prevent the spread of coronavirus, but if you need to leave the house for whatever reason, the CDC advises everyone to wear cloth face masks when you’re going somewhere where social distancing will be difficult to maintain. And by now it’s an executive order if you live in New York to wear one whenever you’re in public and social distancing isn’t possible.
Since the virus is believed to spread from person to person by the transmission of tiny respiratory liquid droplets, wearing a mask helps with preventing transmission from an infected person to someone else. And we know that even asymptomatic people can spread the virus, so it’s important for everyone to wear one.
Provided that you don’t already have a stash of masks at home (which, if those happen to be surgical masks or N95s, they should really be donated to medical personnel who are running low on critical personal protective equipment, or PPE), now is the time to pick up some reusable cloth masks that you can rewash and reuse. Whether you’re shopping for a mask or cutting and making your own at home, look for double layers of tightly woven cotton or quilting material (generally, the thicker the material the better, so long as it’s still breathable), though double-lined pillowcases will do in a pinch if you’re making one yourself.
When in doubt, experts recommend that you hold the fabric up to the light: The more light the mask lets through, the less likely it’ll be able to filter out micro particles.
Demand has been overwhelming, but if you’re wondering where to buy face masks, there are a variety still on sale, and likely more on the way. Fashion retailers like Citizens of Humanity and Alice & Olivia have pivoted their resources and labor into making face masks (with many donating masks to essential care workers at the same time). And thanks to initiatives like L.A. Protects, lots of smaller brands in the L.A. area are also sewing T-shirt scraps and materials into protective gear to benefit their local community. Below are 15 brands that have masks in stock and ready to ship out, but be aware that overwhelming demand could result in delayed ship times.
And if you’re unsure how to wear any of these safely, here are some general guidelines:
- Slip the mask on by the ear hooks or straps and secure it to your face, but do not touch the outside of the mask during this process.
- Always wash your hands before and after wearing your mask.
- Make sure your mouth and nose are covered, and that the mask fits securely to your face, without visible gaps between the mask and your face.
- Wash your masks regularly (a rotation of masks on hand is ideal).
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