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KCMO Health Director recommends caution when wearing homemade masks to protect against COVID-19

Post Date:04/08/2020 10:39 AM

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 8, 2020

Kansas City's Director of Health is endorsing the use of personal, homemade masks for everyone while they’re out in public, whether they’re showing symptoms of COVID-19 or not.

Initially both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended masks only for health care workers, people with weakened immune systems and those experiencing respiratory symptoms or otherwise feeling ill. However, the recent study that suggests the disease spreads by simply breathing or talking, and by people who don’t feel sick, has led to this change in guidance.

Dr. Rex Archer stresses the public should not wear the same masks used by health care workers.

“Health care workers are in the greatest danger from COVID-19 and we must protect them,” said Archer. “Surgical and N-95 masks are for health care workers.”

Homemade masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent handwashing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub. Archer says his recommendation for widespread public use of non-medical masks comes with warnings.

“Residents must remember that if they wear a cloth mask, their automatic response will be to readjust it, pull it down over their chin and touch their face. Don’t,” Archer said. “A homemade face mask is just one more tool to help beat COIVD-19 when used correctly. We don’t know for sure how effective this tool is, therefore the six-foot distance rule still is in effect, even when they have masks on. People need to stay home, sterilize items they frequently touch, and even distance themselves from their own family members when possible.”

Mask construction and additional guidance is available at our web site on KCMO.gov. Media inquiries should be directed to Michelle Pekarsky, 816-719-3610 (cell).

Follow the Health Department on Twitter.

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