Stay in Place, Maintain your Space, Cover your Face
Posted on 04/03/2020
Face Coverings

Benton-Franklin Health District is recommending that all individuals cover their noses and mouths any time they leave home for essential needs, like a weekly trip to the grocery store or a necessary trip to the doctor's office. Or it could be more frequent, if you are an essential worker and your job unavoidably brings you within six feet of people. 

This recommendation is not a substitute for existing guidance to maintain six feet of physical distance from non-household members and performing frequent hand hygiene with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Wearing cloth face coverings will not prevent spread of COVID-19 without these other protective measures

The face coverings should not be hospital grade but should cover the nose and mouth. Bandanas, fabric masks, neck gaiters, and homemade coverings are acceptable.

To be effective, face coverings should be worn consistently and properly so as not to contaminate the hands or face of the user. Fabric coverings should be changed when moist and washed after use. Coverings that have been worn may be contaminated with infectious agents.

Medical masks should be reserved for healthcare providers who are on the front lines working to protect us all. There is a shortage of medical-grade masks and it's critically important that our healthcare workers have the equipment they need to do their jobs.

Before today, local officials have not recommended the large-scale use of face coverings, but circumstances have changed. It’s believed that transmission occurs primarily through droplets from an infected individual, which fabrics may easily filter. This not only reduces the risk for a well person who can breathe in droplets, but also protects others around individuals with mild symptoms who may not yet realize they have the illness.

Staying home and avoiding all non-essential contact with others continues to be the most important thing all of us can do to stay healthy and keep others healthy.

Stay in place, maintain your space, and cover your face.

Face coverings best practice (if you wear one, do so safely)

Face coverings are most effective when worn consistently and properly in order to avoid contaminating the hands or face of the user. Change fabric coverings when moist and wash after use. Worn coverings may be contaminated with infectious agents.

The CDC has created DIY-cloth-face-covering-instructions-CDC.

The following advice on how to wear a face covering safely comes from the World Health Organization:

  • Before putting on a face covering, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

  • Cover mouth and nose with face covering and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the covering.

  • Avoid touching the covering while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

  • Replace the covering with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.

  • To remove the covering: remove it from behind – do not touch the front of the face covering; discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Some basic Design Principles for creating home-made face coverings:

  1. Build a face covering that tightly encloses the area around the nose and mouth, from the bridge of the nose down to the chin, and extending onto the cheek beyond the corners of the mouth, so no gaps occur when talking or moving.
  2. Use material that is tightly woven but breathable. Possibly double-layer the fabric. Face coverings must be made from washable material such as fabric. Choose a fabric that can handle high temperatures and bleach without shrinking or otherwise deforming.  
  3. The covering should be tolerant of expected amounts of moisture from breathing. 
  4. Read more details and other important considerations from Minnesota Dept. of Health  

Additional Resources

Washington Labor & Industries: Making Facemasks as a Last Resort when there is no Availability of N95 Respirators or Facemasks

Interim Guidance (including Design Principles) on Alternative Facemasks from Minnesota Department of Health

DIY Facemasks from the University of Minnesota

Testing the Efficacy of Homemade Masks: Would They Protect in an Influenza Pandemic?

A cluster randomized trial of cloth masks compared with medical masks in healthcare workers

Professional and Home-Made Face Masks Reduce Exposure to Respiratory Infections among the General Population

Rapid Expert Consultation on the Possibility of Bioaerosol Spread of SARS-CoV-2 for the COVID-19 Pandemic (April 1, 2020)

Everyone, even people who are young and healthy, must stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19. Each individual's actions affect the health of our entire community, and what we do as a community protects us all.

For additional information about COVID-19 visit or