BOONE — AppHealthCare, the regional health department, and Appalachian Regional Healthcare System said April 6 that they are following the guidance for use of cloth masks or face coverings by the general public as recently recommended by the CDC.
The CDC recommends “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”
“We know that community transmission is occurring in North Carolina and even though we have a lower number of identified cases in our communities at this time, we believe additional tools should be added to our toolbox to help lessen the effects of COVID-19,” stated Jennifer Greene, AppHealthCare health director. “The use of cloth masks or face coverings by the general public should not replace social distancing and other everyday prevention measures like hand-washing, covering your cough or sneeze or staying home when you are sick.”
Rob Hudspeth, ARHS senior vice president for system advancement, said, “The use of cloth masks makes so much sense toward combatting the spread of COVID-19. As such, we encourage everyone to use them, particularly in public locations where social distancing is difficult to maintain.”
The use of cloth face coverings will not protect you from other people’s germs, the organizations noted — “it is meant to protect other people in case you are infected. This would be important if someone is infected with COVID-19 but does not have symptoms.”
According to the CDC, recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms (asymptomatic or presymptomatic).
“This is why it remains important for people to stay home as much as possible and only go out for essential trips,” according to the statement.
Important Points About Cloth Masks and Face Coverings
- They should cover your nose and mouth.
- They can be worn when out in public where you may be near people like grocery stores or pharmacies.
- They are not a substitute for social distancing. People should still keep 6 feet of distance and stay home to the greatest extent possible.
- They can be made from household items with common materials at low cost.
- They should not be used on children under the age of 2, people who have trouble breathing or anyone who would be unable to remove the covering without assistance.
- They should be routinely washed depending on the frequency of use. You can wash the face covering in the washing machine.
- After you remove a cloth covering from your face, you should be careful not to touch your face and wash your hands immediately after removing.
Due to the short supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), surgical masks and N95 respirators should be reserved for health care workers and other first responders. A health care worker or first responder should continue to use surgical masks and N95 respirators since these provide better protection from infectious diseases.
The CDC provides guidance on instructions for how to make a cloth face covering for both sew and no sew options and using materials like fabric, t-shirt, and bandana at https://tinyurl.com/uxphvl2. You can also view a how-to video by Dr. Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General, at https://youtu.be/tPx1yqvJgf4.
If you have surgical masks or N95 respirators and are willing to donate them, they can be dropped off at the front entrance of Charles A. Cannon Jr. Memorial Hospital in Linville or at the security checkpoint at Watauga Medical Center in Boone.
“We appreciate those in our community who are willing and able to make homemade face coverings,” AppHealthCare and ARHS said in the joint statement.
How to Protect Yourself & Others
- Practice social distancing: Avoid gatherings, keep 6 feet or more away from others and remain at home as much as possible.
- Frequent hand washing for 20 seconds.
- Stay home when you’re sick.
- Keep distance from others who are sick.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces in common areas like doorknobs, remotes, light switches, tables and handles.
- People at high risk should stay home to the greatest extent possible.
People at high risk include anyone who:
- Is 65 years of age or older
- Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
- Has a high-risk condition that includes: Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma; Heart disease with complications; Compromised immune system; Severe obesity — body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher; or Other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease
If You Are Sick
- Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
- If you become ill, call your health care provider or call AppHealthCare to speak with a public health staff member before going to your provider or the emergency room.
- N.C. DHHS currently recommends that “most people do not need testing for COVID-19. If you are sick and unsure if you should get tested, please call your health care provider.”
- Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus
- NCDHHS: ncdhhs.gov/coronavirus
- AppHealthCare: www.apphealthcare.com or call (828) 264-4995
- Appalachian Regional Healthcare System: apprhs.org/COVID19
- Toll-free hotline for non-emergency questions: 1-866-462-3821 or visit www.ncpoisoncontrol.organd select “chat.”