Masks: The Next Best Thing to a Vaccine
Cloth Face Coverings
One of the most important actions we can take to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities is to WEAR A MASK!
Cloth face coverings protect other people from getting COVID-19 when we talk, cough or sneeze. Between 20-40 percent of people with COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms but can still spread the virus to others. Wearing a face covering can significantly reduce the incidence of COVID-19. Until a vaccine or cure is developed, face coverings are one of our best and most important defenses.
Still not sure about wearing a face covering? Check out the article by Dr. Malcolm Butler (Health Officer for Chelan and Douglas Counties). He explains how masking helps reduce the spread of COVID-19, why our understanding of COVID-19 has evolved over time, and why the recommendations have changed to encourage mask wearing.
State-wide Face Covering Order
As of Friday, June 26, all people in Washington State are required to wear a face covering when in any indoor or outdoor public area. No business may operate, allow a customer to enter a business, or conduct in-person business with a customer in any public setting unless the customer is wearing a face covering (as required, and with the exceptions outlined, in Order of the Secretary of Health 20-03.) This can be a cloth face mask, several layers of fabric tied behind the head, a bandana, or a scarf. It needs to cover your mouth and nose. A face covering is not needed when you are outside walking, exercising, or otherwise outdoors as long as you are able to stay 6 feet away from other people who do not live with you.
Children under 2 years of age should not wear a face covering. People who are unable to wear a face covering because of medical conditions are not required to wear a face covering. You can take off your mask to eat, drink, or communicate with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. We hope people will wear a face covering to protect the health of their friends and loved ones.
How to Get a Face Covering
Please use a cloth face covering, do not use a medical mask. There is still a shortage of medical masks and we need to reserve those limited supplies for healthcare workers and first responders.
Make One at Home
A cloth face covering is easy to make at home if you don’t already have one. Take a look at the CDC tips on how to make a face covering at home, without sewing.
Connect with Sewers in the Community
The Okanogan County COVID-19 Crafter and Sewers Facebook page is a great place to link up with people who are making masks. Keep in mind they may charge a fee to cover their costs and time.
At the Food Pantries
Masks are available for low income families (at or below 200% of the federal poverty line) through Okanogan County Community Action Coalition at each of the food pantries throughout Okanogan County.
Purchase a Mask
Many companies have started selling masks online, we encourage you to purchase from local producers and suppliers whenever possible.
- Washington State Department of Health Cloth Face Coverings
- Guidance on Cloth Face Coverings from the Washington State Department of Health
- Cloth Face Coverings: The Do’s and Don’ts of Wearing Them –
- The Science of Masks
- Myths and Facts about Cloth Face Coverings
- Cloth Face Coverings and Masks FAQ
- Top Ten Reasons to Wear a Mask
Protecting Yourself & Others
In addition to steps you can take to prevent the spread of flu and the common cold, the following actions will help prevent coronavirus:
- Always wear a face covering like a fabric mask or bandana when you go out in public, including to work or the grocery store. For more information on how to make your own mask, please see Facial Coverings page.
- Practice physical distancing by staying 6 feet away from those around you when you are in public, including when you are at the grocery store, at the park, or at the doctor’s office. Respect the social distancing needs of others at all times.
- Avoid gatherings, including family gatherings, that include people from outside your household.
- Wash hands often with soap and water. If not available, use hand sanitizer with more than 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
- Stay home while you are sick and avoid close contact with others.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.