According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), here are things to remember if you are making an alternative facemask during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MDH states that you should make every effort to obtain a facemask regulated by the FDA and to comply with the CDC Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of PPE and Equipment. But of course that is not always the case and people have been using other resources to make alternative facemasks.
The MDH has made a list of appropriate times to wear an alternative facemasks:
- FDA regulated PPE supply has been exhausted and all efforts to extend PPE use has been exhausted.
- A worker in a health care facility does not have direct patient care responsibility (e.g. dietary staff, environmental services staff, administrative staff)
- Use by patients who do not have respiratory symptoms.
- Use by visitors or contract staff who are providing services to a healthcare facility.
- Asymptomatic staff who have not had exposures to known or suspect COVID-19 cases.
They also have a list of design principles should you design your own:
- Build a mask 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.
- 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.
- The mask should be tolerant of expected amounts of moisture from breathing.
- Other Considerations
- Suggested materials- 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.
The full guidebook for alternative facemasks by the MDH can be viewed by clicking this link.