KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention may soon change its stance that most people do not need to wear a face mask during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to current CDC guidelines, people only need to wear a mask if they're sick or if they're caring for someone who is sick.
However, as the virus continues to spread at a rapid rate, the recommendation may become much more broad.
Wearing a mask, who does it protect?
Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates, said one of the problems with COVID-19 is people who have it don't always know it.
"Assuming that what we're hearing is true, and that many of us might be potentially carrying the virus without displaying any symptoms, it's going to help protect our community if everyone wears the mask," Burgert said.
Doctors across the country have echoed the message that wearing a surgical or homemade cloth mask will help to prevent the spread of illness. However, it's not believed to offer protection for the person who is wearing it.
Proper wear and removal of face masks
Doctors also said it can offer a false sense of security, adding that people often fidget with the mask and could catch the virus by touching their face.
Burgert said she's noticed people who also wear face masks incorrectly.
"It needs to fully cover the nose and the mouth and be as tight around the areas (where) the mask can leak as possible," Burgert said.
When it comes to a standard surgical mask, Burgert said it's important to pitch down tightly around the nose because that's the area where droplets from a cough or sneeze can easily escape from.
People who wear a mask also want to make sure it goes all the way under their chin and that it's wrapped around the ears tightly.
When removing a mask, Dr. Burgert said it's important to only grab the part that wraps around the ears.
"Assume that when this comes off, that it's full of germs," Burgert said. "Try to avoid the blue colored area and just remove with the straps because then you can just put it right into the trash."
If reusing a mask, Dr. Burgert said to remove it the same way and place it in a plastic bag.
When it comes to wearing a homemade cloth mask, the same rules apply.
However, many of them do not have a seal around the nose. Dr. Burgert said people can insert pipe cleaner into the lining that will allow them to form the mask around the bridge of their nose.
After the mask has been removed, people need to wash their hands.
Where to find masks during a shortage
Several businesses and citizens have offered have begun making cloth face masks.
sewKC has made more than 4,000 masks in accordance with CDC guidelines.
Johnny Dawbarn, part-owner of sewKC, began making the masks upon a request from a doctor.
"She was saying, 'Hey, if you can make this, we need them,' and we made a bunch for her," Dawbarn said.
For every mask purchased, Dawbarn said sewKC will donate one.
Dawbarn said they've donated masks to several area hospitals and to the Kansas City Police Department.
The masks are not intended to be used in place of medical grade masks, which protect healthcare workers from contracting COVID-19, but as a supplement. Medical personnel who have to reuse p95 masks, can place the cloth mask over top as an extra barrier to keep their masks clean.
"They can pull that off at the end of every shift, clean, wash and sanitize," Dawbarn said.
Dawbarn said they're also fulfilling orders for the general public.
Right now, the turnaround time is four to five days.
Dawbarn said they can get masks out sooner if the buyer doesn't have a color or pattern preference.
With such a high demand for the masks, sewKC is looking to hire more people who know how to sew.
Right now, Dawbarn said staff is working 12 to 14-hour shifts to keep up with orders.
People who are interested in applying, can reach out to Dawbarn through the company's Facebook page.
Masks can also be purchased online here.