Beginning May 1, 2020, individuals in Illinois over two years old are required to wear masks in public where a 6-foot distance cannot be maintained. This includes indoor public spaces such as stores.
SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus that has emerged and caused coronavirus disease (abbreviated as COVID-19). Public health experts continue to learn about COVID-19, but based on current data and similar coronaviruses, the virus is believed to be spread between close contacts via respiratory droplets or contact with contaminated surfaces. While staying home, social distancing and strict hand hygiene are still preferred methods for preventing further spread of COVID-19, wearing a mask is one more tool that may be used by the general public and essential workers to protect each other from respiratory droplets produced when we cough, sneeze or talk.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. Wearing a face mask will also help slow the spread between people who do not have symptoms and are unknowingly infected with COVID-19.
The most effective measures for preventing further spread of COVID-19 remain staying home when you are sick, maintain physical separation between other people while out in public (at least 6 feet) and frequently washing your hands with either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
When to Wear a Mask
All Illinoisans are required to wear as mask or face covering when in public or when a 6-foot distance cannot be maintained. Examples include:
- Shopping at essential businesses, like grocery stores or pharmacies
- Picking up food from the drive-thru or curbside pickup
- While visiting your health care provider
- Traveling on public transportation
- Interacting with customers, clients or coworkers at essential businesses
- Performing essential services for state and local government agencies, such as laboratory testing, where close interactions with other people are unavoidable
- When feeling sick, coughing or sneezing
Situations that don’t require a mask or face covering include running or walking in your neighborhood, mowing the lawn, performing spring yard cleanup, gardening, washing your car in the driveway and other outdoor activities on your own property.
By following this guidance when leaving your home, you will reduce exposure and help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Best Practices for Homemade Masks or Face Coverings
Best practices for making and wearing homemade masks include:
- Using materials available at home or buying materials online to avoid exposure in public places.
- Purchasing masks made by small businesses, saving medical masks for health care workers and potentially helping the local economy.
- Making masks from materials that will hold up to daily washing and drying. Wash and dry newly sewn masks before using them for the first time.
- Having more than one mask per person so they can be laundered daily. This will also be helpful if your mask becomes wet, damaged or no longer fits and you need to replace it.
- Cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizers or soap and water before putting on a mask, immediately after removing it or if you touch the mask while using it.
- The mask should fit snugly around your mouth and nose. A metal wire sewn or built into the mask will help it conform to the bridge of your nose.
- Avoiding touching the mask while using it. If you do, wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Whether you use cotton fabrics, paper-based shop towels or other materials, try to strike a balance between the materials you already have at home, how easy it will be to breathe while wearing the mask for extended periods away from home and whether or not you would prefer to craft a new mask every day (paper) or wash and reuse your mask(s).
- Replacing your mask when wet, damaged or if it no longer fits your face. Masks should not be worn damp or when wet from spit or mucus.
- Try to avoid touching the outer surface of the mask when removing it. Remove the mask by untying it or unfastening the ear loops. Place it in a bag or bin away from small children or pets until it can be laundered.
This does not replace but enhances other IDPH guidance concerning social distancing and universal masking in congregate living facilities.
How do I care for my mask?
It’s a good idea to wash your mask or face covering daily. Place your used masks in a bag or bin away from small children or pets until they can be laundered with detergent and dried on a hot cycle. If you need to remove and reuse your mask before washing, consider putting it in a plastic or paper bag (not your backpack or purse) and be mindful not to put the mask where others can touch it or where the mask will contaminate shared surfaces. Wash your hands immediately after putting on your mask and avoid touching your face.
Paper-based masks, like those crafted from shop towels, should be discarded after each use.
How do can I make my own mask or face covering?
Below are a number of online resources with instructions for making homemade masks and face coverings from cloth fabric or paper:
CDC DIY Cloth Face Coverings (April 4) – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth...
CDC Recommendations for Cloth Face Covers – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-fac...
U.S. Surgeon General How to Make Your Own Face Covering (YouTube) – https://youtu.be/tPx1yqvJgf4
CDC Cloth Face Covers FAQ – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-fac...
Pennsylvania Department of Public Health Guidance on Homemade Masks during COVID-19 – https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/Documents/Diseases%20and%20Conditions/H...
California Department of Public Health – https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Face-Coverings-Guidance....
Minnesota Department of Health Interim Guidance on Alternative Facemasks – http://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/hcp/masksalt.pdf
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Face Coverings FAQ –https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/imm/covid-19-face-covering...
National Institutes of Health 3D Print Exchange – https://3dprint.nih.gov/collections/covid-19-response
JOANNE Fabric Stores – https://www.joann.com/make-to-give-response/
Easy No-Sew Shop Towel Mask (YouTube) – https://youtu.be/mai-UqdNRi8
Coronavirus Tips: How to make a mask without sewing (YouTube) – https://youtu.be/t7oE65D4jGkCoron
FAQ for Businesses Concerning Use of Face Masks During COVID-19
I. When Face-Coverings are Required
II. Exceptions and Reasonable Accommodations
Provide the individual an opportunity to order by telephone or online and provide pickup at a special register, curbside or deliver the items to the individual’s home.
Arrange for an employee to bring the individual the items for purchase and allow the individual to pay at a special register, over the phone or at the front of the store.