Last updated: May 22, 2020
COVID-19 is a new disease. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet), or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can be transmitted by touching your eyes, nose, mouth or inhaled through your lungs. In addition, it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching their own eyes, nose or mouth after touching a surface or object that has the virus on it. Those who unknowingly have COVID-19 and are not symptomatic can still spread the disease.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
Anne Arundel County residents should follow the Governor’s Order to stay-at-home and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation for communities to use cloth masks as an additional public health measure to limit the spread of the virus.
For Retail Businesses and Customers, there is the ORDER FOR PUBLIC SAFETY REQUIRING FACE COVERINGS AND ENHANCED SOCIAL DISTANCING IN PUBLIC PLACES and INTERPRETIVE GUIDANCE.
If leaving your residence for essential services (e.g., food, medications, essential work), the Anne Arundel County Department of Health recommends wearing a face mask that covers the nose and mouth at all times when outside of your private residence, including work and all outdoor spaces.
During a public health emergency, face masks may be limited and reserved for health care workers and first responders. Individuals are encouraged to wear homemade masks or use face coverings such as bandanas or scarves to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.
When to Wear a Face Mask
If you are symptomatic:
- Stay at home.
- Remain in social isolation and practice self-quarantine.
- Wear a mask if you must interact with others, but continue to stay at least 6 feet away from other people in your household.
If you are not symptomatic:
- Continue social distancing practices and stay at least 6 feet away from other people outside of your house or where you are staying.
- Leave the house only when absolutely necessary, such as reporting to an essential job, seeking medical care or shopping for groceries.
- If you must leave your home, wear a nonmedical mask; especially when you cannot maintain 6 feet distance from others.
SHOULD NOT Wear a Mask:
- Children under age 2
- Anyone who has trouble breathing
- Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance
- Anyone who has a disability that prevents wearing a mask. People with disabilities who are unable to wear a mask are provided reasonable accommodations per the Americans with Disabilities Act. Read “Should I wear a face mask?”
Anxiety About Face Covering. Wearing a cloth face covering in public can reduce anxiety because it lowers your risk for infection, but for some, it significantly increases their anxiety from claustrophobic feelings or associating it with the situations where it should be worn because they are where the risk of infection increases. Try wearing the face covering at home for an hour while doing something you find relaxing to become comfortable with it and focus on how it will reduce the risk of infection when you wear it. If your anxiety persists consider getting help. Call 211 and press 1, text 898-211, visit pressone.211md.org, or chat confidentially for information about local services and programs.
How do I wear a mask?
Masks should be placed over the mouth and nose and removed carefully, without touching the outside surface. Cloth masks should be washed frequently.
What if I cannot find a mask?
During this public health emergency, surgical and N-95 masks are reserved for health care workers and first responders. To reduce the risk of transmission, you may use scarves, bandana-style neck covers and other similar face covers to cover your mouth, nose and the sides of your face. A cloth mask is better than not having a mask at all to prevent the spread of disease and protect the people around you.
Making Your Own Face Mask
- Build a mask that tightly encloses the area around the nose and mouth. It should be from the bridge of the nose down to the chin, and extend onto the cheeks beyond the corners of the mouth. No gaps should occur when talking or moving. The mask should not be so tight that interferes with breathing.
- Use mask material that is tightly woven but breathable. Possibly double-layer the fabric.
- Masks must be made from washable material such as fabric. Choose a fabric that can handle high temperatures and bleach without shrinking or otherwise deforming.
- Outer layer tea cloth, inner layer of a microfleece to wick away moisture, and an inner tea cloth layer. Use an accordion fold to mimic a hospital mask as much as possible and use a fat woven shoelace type material to bind the sides (such as quilt binding).
- For straps, use elastic straps that loop behind the ears. Fabric ties can be made out of extra fabric or cloth ribbon.
- It is not advised to use HEPA filters from appliances such as air filters and vacuum cleaners. These kind of filters may be chemically treated and the chemicals may be harmful if breathed in over the course of several hours.
- Tip: You can use existing resources such as fabric already on hand, cloth napkins or old clothes to avoid a special trip to the store.
There are no standards for handmade face masks. Consider the design principles above when creating yours. There are many instructions and examples available online for those who may wish to create their own. It is best to use instructions from health care sources.
Do it Yourself (DIY) Mask Videos:
Do it Yourself (DIY) Mask Printable Instructions:
- Providence St. Joseph’s Hospital
- Face Mask with Elastic Deaconess Hospital
- Deaconess Hospital: Face Mask with Ties
No-Sew DIY Mask Options
There are also no-sew options for covering your face when in public. These options include using items you may already have on hand.
- Wide bandeaus
- Paper towel
Mask Storage and Cleaning
Storing and Cleaning Fabric/Reusable Face Masks
- Cleaning: Fabric face masks should be washed between use with hot water and regular detergent. Dry completely on a high heat setting.
- Storage: Clean masks and dirty masks should be stored separately.
Storing and Cleaning Paper Masks
- Storage and Cleaning: At this time, paper masks should be discarded after use.
When to Replace or Throw Away a Mask
- Face masks should be thrown away if they are damaged or if they are hard to breathe through.
- Face masks should be changed when saturated from condensation build up from breathing or after you believe your mask has become contaminated.
General Guidance for Respiratory Etiquette and Prevention
Face masks are not a substitute for other infection control efforts, such as washing your hands and social distancing. Masks may be effective in reminding others to respect social distancing guidelines.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, even if you are wearing a mask.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment
- What you need to know about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
- What to do if you are sick with COVID-19
- Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations
- CDC’s Handwashing Guide- Clean Hands Save Lives
COVID-19 Contact Information
Visit the Department of Health at www.aahealth.org/COVID-19 for more COVID-19 health information. The Anne Arundel County COVID-19 webpage at www.aacounty.org/coronavirus has general information on county level efforts and resources.
If you have more questions or concerns regarding COVID-19, call the COVID-19 Health Line at 410-222-7256 or email email@example.com.
Also, subscribe to the County Civic Ready text alerts. Text “Join COVID” to 30890.