On March 19th, CDC updated recommendations that tell health care workers to make their own homemade face masks. This has received very little media attention. From personal experience I can tell you that many individuals are still not aware of the fact that this will reduce infection. For example, I have been told by at least one individual claiming to be present at official policy meetings that making recommendations like this would be extremely dangerous.
Apparently, the CDC doesn’t agree. At the very bottom of new updated recommendation, they continue, “In settings where facemasks are not available” healthcare workers can make masks from materials such as a “scarf or bandana.”
CDC says that they are not considered PPE because “their capability to protect HCP is unknown” and that they should be used in “combination with a face shield that covers the…face.”
However, they may want to add the same disclaimer for all facemasks including surgical masks. How can we know definitively what helps when we have no data on Coronavirus? Experts can’t seem to agree on which masks work best. But ask any expert the following question: Should we err on the side of caution given the seriousness of the crisis? The answer to be a resounding “YES.”
This should be instructive to individuals and policymakers. If CDC is recommending this to health care workers, you should consider doing the same. The primary reason the public has been instructed not to wear facemasks is it might deplete the supply of surgical masks. However, fashioning your own mask doesn’t affect health care workers. Further, when a large organization like the CDC makes a recommendation like this, you can be certain that it will help more than hurt.
Since most countries that have flattened the curve, have recommendations for the communal face masks as well as populations that wear the masks in public, I hope individuals in the USA will take it upon themselves to fashion and wear facemasks in public. Do it before the CDC makes this recommendation. I predict it will come, but pray sooner than later.