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Coronavirus: How to make, where to buy cloth mask as NY issues face-covering order

The governor of New York State, Andrew Cuomo, has announced that all people must cover their faces in public if unable to maintain social distancing.

New York face-covering order: how to make, where to buy cloth mask
CAITLIN OCHS REUTERS

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered people in the American state to cover their face if they’re out in a public space where they cannot keep at least six feet of distance from others.

Face-covering order takes effect on Friday

"If you are in public and you cannot maintain social distancing, then have a mask," Cuomo told a press conference in Albany, New York’s state capital, as he announced the measure on Wednesday. The order takes effect at 20:00 EDT on Friday.

Over a third of the United States’ 640,000 coronavirus cases so far have been in the state of New York, where there have been more than 11,500 deaths.

Medical-grade masks reserved for healthcare staff

Although surgical masks and N95 respirators are most effective at protecting the wearer from the virus and preventing them from spreading it, medical workers are being prioritised when it comes to their distribution.

Medical-grade masks are "critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders”, explains the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cloth masks less effective, but help stop spread

However, cloth masks can either be bought or made at home. They may do less to protect the wearer, but they “slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others”, the CDC says.

You’ll find a useful rundown of places where cloth masks can be purchased in the US here.

Homemade masks: materials and methods

The best material for making face masks is, according to Goodhousekeeping.com, “tightly woven, 100% cotton fabric. Things like bed sheets, curtains, and woven shirts are good options if they're made entirely out of cotton.”

The CDC offers a step-by-step guide to three methods of making homemade face masks - one which requires sewing, two which do not - here.

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