What to Know About Making Your Own Masks

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Leaving your house is even weirder and scarier than usual right now, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the disorganized response it's inspired from the federal government. On Friday, however, the president did announce that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now advise "the use of nonmedical cloth face covering as an additional voluntary public health measure."

For his part, Trump says he does not plan to wear protective facial gear, but for American consumers, this CDC statement adds a new twist to their daily lives. Medical-grade face masks, like the N95 respirators, are all but impossible to find, and are terribly in demand for medical professionals. Other items that cover the mouth and nose are in short supply, and some sellers are certainly engaging in price-gouging or unfair markups. If you'd feel safer wearing a mask in public, what's left for you?

First of all, it's important to remember that a cloth or paper mask will not protect you from coronavirus; instead, it's meant to protect other people from your own germs, since it's not always clear who's been infected. Second, it is possible to build your own masks with items you already have at home. One popular DIY guide offers a guide for making a mask without any sewing whatsoever, using just a bandana and two hair ties. Other sets of instructions may be a little more complicated, but look for signs that you can trust the source; this one was designed by an epidemiologist. Many of them are washable and reusable. Hopefully these can make you feel more secure in going about your business — after all, we'll all have to figure out how sooner or later.