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At last: Federal officials are reconsidering the recommendation for the general public not to wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic

Face Masks One Green and Two WhiteSince late February, I’ve wondered why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t been recommending the general public wear face masks. I wrote about it in my article “What You Need to Do to Get Ready for a Possible Covid-19 Outbreak in Your Community.” I said:

So, while it’s unknown where covid-19 will strike in the U.S., or if it will, I think getting some N95 masks is a good idea, if you can find them. I wonder if buying them isn’t recommended at this time so there won’t be a run on them, making them unavailable for health care workers.

Sure enough, a couple of weeks later, on Feb. 29, there was an email tweet from the surgeon general about not buying masks. A New York Times article quoted the tweet as follows: “Seriously people – STOP BUYING MASKS!” the surgeon general, Jerome M. Adams, said in a tweet on Saturday morning. “They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

Then on Feb. 18, at Life Care Center of Kirkland in Washington state, the first person in respiratory distress was sent to the EvergreenHealth Medical Center, the area hospital. I couldn’t figure it out. Then, it dawned on me. Someone with coronavirus walked in the front door and the coronavirus spread to so many of the residents and staff. So far, 35 people at the nursing home have died of covid-19.

So, buy a face mask, if you can find one. Or, make a mask yourself if you sew and have materials on hand or can buy them. If those options don’t work for you, this New York Times article contains a video that shows how to make a mask from a t-shirt.

These options aren’t as good as an N95 mask, but they do offer significant protection. Even wearing a bandana offers important protection.

In addition, buy disposable gloves and wear them when you go out and handle groceries and mail.

Good luck to us all. If you’re a nonessential employee, stay home, as recommended. Use social distancing when you go to the store for groceries or to a doctor’s appointment.


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Carol Cassara

I'm completely flummoxed by the way this whole thing has been handled by the gov't.


Hi Carol,

It's hard to find the right words, but flummoxed is a good one.

It makes me so angry that the federal government is being so negligent. Our governor Jay Inslee is doing a good job.


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