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Q: How should people wear cloth masks to protect themselves from coronavirus?

The mayor has now urged that all Maui residents wear masks in public if they have them available. This follows the CDC’s updated guidelines that recommend wearing masks.

Experts believe that masks and cloth face coverings can help slow the spread of coronavirus by reducing the likelihood of an infected person spreading the virus to others. There’s also some evidence that masks may reduce your risk of catching the virus.

Surgical masks, handmade masks, and cloth face coverings can be good to use when you have to go out in public places. Remember that any protection is limited, so you should still avoid going out more than necessary, and stay at least six feet away from other people when you do.
The CDC has several easy DIY mask designs you can make at home. You can find them on the CDC website.

If you’re using a homemade mask or face covering, be sure you are wearing it safely. Use caution when placing heavy, tight masks on children, as a mask that is too constricting can make it difficult to breathe. Likewise, be careful when you’re wearing a mask during exercise, as there have been some reports of people fainting while working out in masks.

If used safely in addition to other precautions, like social distancing and isolation, masks can help slow the spread of coronavirus in our community.

Lee Weiss, MD
Department of Emergency Medicine Chairman, Maui Memorial Medical Center
Regional Director of Emergency Medicine, Emergent Medical ASsociates