The Vermont Department of Health is encouraging Vermonters to wear cloth face masks or a “facial covering” in public, even if they don’t have symptoms of COVID-19.
The suggestion came during a news conference Friday morning, where Health Commissioner Mark Levine and Gov. Phil Scott updated the public on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Wearing a face mask may help people from spreading the virus,” Levine said.
Levine expected a formal announcement would come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the coming days. As of Friday morning, there has been no guidance from the CDC recommending the public to wear face masks.
Both the health commissioner and the governor are still advising Vermonters to abide by social distancing guidelines to slow the spread of the virus.
“This is not a substitute for staying home, and it’s not an excuse to mingle with others,” Scott said.
As information has evolved on the transmission of COVID-19, state and federal health officials are aware of growing evidence there may be a 48-hour period before symptoms might appear where someone could transmit the virus.
“Pre-symptomatic spread of COVID-19 is possible,” Levine said.
The city of Burlington recently purchased enough cotton twill to produce 21,000 cloth face masks, intended for use by essential workers such as home-care employees or check-out clerks.
Although Vermont is not currently experiencing a shortage of N95 masks, state officials are not recommending people purchase them.
“We must still reserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who are on the front line,” Levine said.
There are roughly 283,000 units of N95 masks in Vermont, according to Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling.
How to make your own face mask
Many Vermont sewers and tailors have taken to assembling their own cloth face masks in the last several weeks.
For those interested in making their own as opposed to buying one in a store, here is a step-by-step gallery to follow along with or watch an instructional video by JOANN Fabrics:
Contact Ethan Bakuli at (802) 556-1804 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BakuliEthan.
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