Whether for use in volunteer efforts to help protect healthcare workers amid the COVID-19 outbreak or personal use, you may consider sewing a cloth mask. Still, it's important to note that homemade masks are not a replacement for personal protective equipment (PPE). Alok Patel,M.D., a pediatrician in New York City affiliated with New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and Cornell and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, says that there is an important distinction to be made between N95 masks and loose-fitting medical masks like the one in this tutorial. "When it comes to a mask's effectiveness, there really are two factors: the ability to filter out airborne particles and the actual fit," he explains. "The N95 mask is the best we have and duplicating it is no easy task. I've seen online tutorials using various types of fabrics and while it is possible the handmade masks could block out larger droplets, they are, understandably, not as effective as the N95s."
Refer to our medical face mask project with its downloadable template for a form-fitting style, based on age group or the CDC's no-sew option. In tandem, take preventative measures: practice social distancing by meeting virtually, wash your hands properly, and sanitize your home all in order to minimize your exposure to illness.
Update: As of April 3, 2020, the CDC is recommending that everyone should wear a cloth face covering in public settings to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Visit cdc.gov for further information about this development.