Rhode Islanders encouraged to wear cloth face covers in public

RHODE ISLAND (WLNE) – The director of the state’s Department of Health is encouraging Rhode Islanders to wear cloth face covers when out in public.

According to Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, Director of RIDOH, cloth masks can be sewn by hand or improvised from household items such as scarves or T-shirts. They can be secured to the head with ties or straps, or wrapped around the lower face.

The general public should not be seeking out surgical masks or N95 masks. Those should be reserved for healthcare professionals.

“We want to do our part to limit the spread of respiratory droplets when people are in the community and in public,” said Dr. Alexander-Scott. “We recognize that there may be times people are not aware that they have some of those mild symptoms. So, being able to cover yourself helps protect other people from being exposed.”

Dr. Alexander-Scott went on to say cloth face covers are not substitutes for physical distancing, washing your hands, and staying home when ill.

If you are looking to make your own face mask, experts recommend using cotton or rayon fabrics.

“You could definitely hand sew,” said Patti Barnatt. She’s been a sewing instructor for more than 20 years and recently volunteered to make cloth masks for Lifespan.

“I can make one in 18 minutes,” said Barnatt.

She recommends beginners use a covenant face mask pattern. She said old sheets could suffice as fabric, and ribbons or shoe laces could be used as the mask’s ties.

“Some people use elastic,” said Barnatt. “We’ve been told that nurses who have to wear these for hours and hours find the elastic starts getting annoying and hurts after a while.”

DIY face masks require two pieces of fabric. Barnatt recommends using fabrics with different patterns, so you’ll be able to tell which side you had touching your face when you take the mask off.

If you don’t have any supplies around the house, you can order online at ribbonfactory.com. The company is prioritizing shipping for COVID-19 related purchases.

Or, you can try Ryco in Lincoln, R.I. The store is offering free shipping.

Categories: Coronavirus, Rhode Island, Your Health