Masks, Gloves and Face Coverings

Greene County Emergency Services will hold a drive-through cloth mask distribution event on Thursday June 11th from 5:30-7:00 pm in the parking lot behind the county office building on Water Street in Catskill.

Daniel King, Emergency Manager
Greene County Emergency Services
25 Volunteer Drive, Cairo NY 12413

Face Coverings & Masks

It is not uncommon to see a person masked and gloved while walking around in public. Some of you may ask if that is necessary to protect yourself during COVID-19.

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus. The CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

Cloth face coverings should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape

More from the CDC on cloth face coverings

If you choose to use a medical mask, follow these instructions:

  • Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
  • To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

More from the WHO on medical masks

Wearing a face covering does not make you invincible! We still need to stay home as much as possible, especially if sick. It is essential that people continue to practice social (physical) distancing and good hand hygiene even when wearing a face covering – including keeping 6 feet of distance between themselves and others whenever possible. A face covering is one more precaution we can take that may help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Where Can I Get a Face Covering?

  • MaryLyn Sewing in Freehold is taking online orders
  • Kelly’s Pharmacy in Greenville & Coxsackie is selling bandannas (check Facebook for stock status)
  • Quirky Market in Greenville is accepting orders on Facebook
  • St. Mary’s Church in Coxsackie and St. Patrick’s in Ravena are running a face mask drive. Sewers are asked to come get a pattern and instructions for how to make the masks so they reach their maximum effectiveness. Instructions can be found in church with the masks. They are also available online. Anyone who needs a mask is invited to come to the church and get one! 
  • MAsKs4PeoplE is based in Catskill and serving New York State & beyond. They are artists and artisans working together making protective masks, free for those in urgent need, healthcare workers, and those on the front line. They are accepting fabric donations as well. 
  • Three Wags is shifting from making pet accessories to fabric face mask production given the immense need. Fabric masks are to be worn while practicing social distancing and are not intended to be a substitute for medical grade masks or personal protective equipment (PPEs).

Finally, please feel free to call the GC Emergency Operations Center. They have a running list of volunteers and Reserve Medical Corps.

Public Assistance Number: 518-635-5119
Email: emergency@gc911eoc.com

Make Your Own Face Covering

Many individuals at this time are making their own hand-made reusable face coverings. While not as effective as surgical and N-95 masks, these can still help protect you and others from sharing germs. Masks should be made with tough, durable, tightly woven material (not a knit fabric). Masks must cover both the nose and mouth to be effective. If you choose to make your own mask, many websites provide instructions.

Joann’s (located in Hudson) is giving away free material to make masks to anyone, as long as you call first.
Directions to Make a Mask

There are plenty of online tutorials on making face coverings. The most important aspect is that the fabric is of a tightly woven material. The goal of a face covering is to significantly reduce the user’s expulsion of the potential virus through their moth or nose. That is to say, face coverings are not designed to protect the wearer, but rather protect everyone around them.

Gloves

The use of gloves while in public is not necessary as long as the individual follows proper hand washing guidelines. Gloves are only needed if you plan on coming in contact with an infected person, or if you have an open, unbandaged wound on your hands. Gloves are NOT meant to replace hand washing, and often provide a false sense of security to the wearer. Most people who use gloves continue to touch other objects like a cellphone, money, and their face with the same gloves on, spreading germs and ultimately making the gloves useless.

If you choose to use gloves in public, follow this protocol to safely remove them:

  • Pinch and hold the outside of the glove near the wrist area.
  • Peel downwards, away from the wrist, turning the glove inside out.
  • Pull the glove away until it is removed from the hand and hold the inside-out glove with the gloved hand.
  • With your un-gloved hand, slide your finger/s under the wrist of the remaining glove, taking care not to touch the outside of the glove.
  • Again, peel downwards, away from the wrist, turning the glove inside out.
  • Continue to pull the glove down and over the inside-out glove being held in your gloved hand. This will ensure that both gloves are inside out, one glove enveloped inside the other, with no contaminant on the bare hands. Remember, gloves do not replace hand washing!

Frequently Asked Questions from NYC guidelines on face coverings.

What is a face covering?

A face covering is any well-secured paper or cloth (like a bandanna or scarf) that covers your mouth and nose.

Who should wear a face covering?

All New Yorkers should wear a face covering when they need to be outside their home and may be closer than 6 feet from others. People who are sick should wear a face covering while at home if they cannot maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others. People who are sick and who need to leave home, such as to get urgent medical care, should always wear a face covering.

Do I need to wear a face covering all the time when outside my house?

If you are sick, yes. Remember you must stay home if you are sick and only leave for essential medical care or to get basic necessities such as groceries.

If you are not sick, you should wear a face covering whenever you need to leave home and might be closer than 6 feet from others. Examples include riding the subway or bus, riding in a taxi or car service, walking on a busy street, going to pharmacies and grocery stores, and going to the doctor or a hospital. Essential workers should also wear a face covering at work when they cannot maintain at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and others.

Do I need to wear a face covering when I am exercising?

No — as long as you maintain at least 6 feet from others. People should only do exercise that enables them to keep physical distance from others. Walking, running, and biking are good examples of activities that do not require shared equipment or close contact with others.

I was confirmed to have COVID-19 and am better now, do I still need to wear a face covering?

There is a lot we still don’t know about COVID-19, including how long the virus remains in someone’s body and whether it’s possible to get sick again. For this reason, we recommend that you continue physical distancing and other precautions even after you are better. This includes wearing a face covering when you are outside your home and cannot maintain at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others. Remember if you had or may have had COVID-19, you should not leave the house except for essential medical care or to get essential needs until all the following are true:

  • It has been at least 7 days since your symptoms started.
  • You never had a fever or you have not had a fever for the last 3 days without taking fever-reducing drugs such as Tylenol or ibuprofen.
  • Your overall illness has improved.

Why are you recommending this now?

There is a lot we are still learning about COVID-19. However, there is increased evidence that people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus, and that droplets produced when breathing, speaking, or singing may spread COVID-19 from person to person.

We continue to think staying home and practicing physical distancing and good hand hygiene are the most important ways to stop the spread of COVID-19. By recommending the use of face coverings, we are adding one more thing that may help reduce the spread, especially from people who are sick and do not know it yet.

What type of face covering is better — paper or cloth?

Either paper or cloth face covering is fine — as long as you are covering your nose and mouth. However, please do not hoard paper masks, especially medical grade masks, such as N95 masks or surgical masks. These masks are in very short supply and our health care providers need masks to stay healthy and to care for the most critically ill. Health care workers cannot keep distance from others, avoid sick people, or avoid contact with others’ bodily fluid such as saliva, so it is essential that we reserve masks for them.

How often do I need to wash my face covering?

If you are using a cloth face covering, we recommend washing once a day by hand or machine using detergent. The face covering should be fully dry before using. People should have a couple of face coverings so they can rotate for washing.

For how long can I use a paper face covering?

If you use a non-health care worker paper face covering, we recommend that you use a new one every day. Please don’t use health care worker masks, such as N95 or surgical masks. It is essential that we save health care worker masks for our health care workers! Use a bandanna, a scarf, or a covering that you have made yourself rather than using masks that are needed by our health care workers on the front lines of this pandemic.

Are there precautions I should take with my face covering?

  • In taking on and off a face covering, you will likely touch your face. As such, please wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or, if not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer every time you take on and off your face covering.
  • Do not put a used face covering in places where others can touch them or where germs trapped in your face covering can touch other surfaces, such as counter tops or your kitchen table.
  • Used paper masks should be thrown out at the end of the day.
  • Do not throw your face covering loose in a bag or backpack. We recommend keeping a plastic back with you to store your face covering if you will be taking if off when outside the house.