Masks can help slow the spread of COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone wear cloth face coverings in public settings like grocery stores and pharmacies. The CDC says that wearing a mask can slow the spread of COVID-19 and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

While no mask can prevent a person from catching COVID-19, wearing one is an additional step everyone can take to avoid spreading it. Blue Cross® Blue Shield® of Arizona (BCBSAZ) has you covered with tips for making and wearing masks effectively.

How to make or choose a mask

Because surgical masks and N-95 respirators are critical for healthcare workers, the CDC recommends everyone else use cloth masks. You can make your own at home from cotton sheets, a bandana or an old T-shirt – any material you can clean in a washing machine.

Whether you are making your own or buying a cloth face covering, the mask should:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the sides of the face.
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops.
  • Include more than one layer of fabric.
  • Allow for easy breathing.
  • Be able to be washed and dried without changing shape.

How to wear and care for your mask

Take these steps to get the most protection from your mask:

  • Before using your mask, always wash your hands.
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when wearing or taking off your mask. Wash your hands if you do.
  • Replace masks after they’ve become damp. If you’re using a single-use mask, discard it after use.
  • To take off the mask, remove it from behind. Don’t touch the front, as it may contain germs. Put the mask in a secure place until you can wash it. If it is a single-use mask, throw it in an enclosed trash can.
  • Wash your hands right after you take your mask off.
  • You should wash your cloth face mask often in hot water.

Who shouldn't wear a mask

Cloth face masks should not be placed on:

  • Children under age two.
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing.
  • Anyone who is unable to remove the mask without help.

It’s still important to stay home as much as possible to help stop the spread of COVID-19. When you do go out for essential activities, consider adding maskwearing to your frequent hand-washing and social distancing routine.

The CDC has tips for making and wearing face masks, and other important guidelines.