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Face masks likely won't stop you from getting COVID-19, but they could help stop the spread

Face masks have become a controversial topic on whether or not citizens should be wearing them.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Health officials are looking into the possibility of recommending people wear face masks while in public spaces because they could keep asymptomatic people from spreading the virus.

Face masks have become a controversial topic on whether or not citizens should be wearing them.

"Wearing it to try and protect you from someone else, it has limited value," Dr. Nate Smith said.

But the Arkansas Health Secretary says there is a benefit when it comes to asymptomatic people. Many of us will not know we even have COVID-19, so wearing one would not hurt because it catches respiratory droplets.

"Wearing a mask really does help the person wearing the mask from spreading COVID-19," Dr. Smith said.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams is changing his stance on face masks. In February, he tweeted they have no value to citizens and asked people to stop buying them. But he is now having the CDC do more research, and said on Twitter "emerging data suggests facial coverings may prevent asymptomatic disease transmission to others."

But masks have become scarce. This is where making one yourself can be helpful.

"The fastest route is going to be on a sewing machine. But it's not necessary," Zoe Eagan-Gardner said.

Gardner is the head of production at Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, where she is making masks for healthcare workers. All you will need is fabric, needle and a thread.

"What you're going to do is, you're going to start out with basically a square piece of fabric and you're going to make bunches on either end, that way it's wider in the middle where your mouth and nose are and skinnier around the jawline area, that way it makes a nice seal, forms to your face well," she said.

Gardner suggests a lighter fabric so it's easier to see stains.

"If you wear it out I would recommend washing it with soap and water before wearing it out again," she said.

You can use either ribbons or rubber bands to secure it to your face. 

"You can do it two ways. You can either sew a ribbon that is long that you tie around the back of your head or neck or you can make loops that go around your ears," Gardner said.

These homemade masks are still not as effective as medical-grade masks, but they could be good enough for just going out to the grocery store.

"Mostly what it's going to do is, it's going to keep you— if you happen to have anything— from passing your germs onto the surrounding areas," Gardner said.

If you do choose to wear a face mask, the surgeon general recommends:

  1. Wash your hands well before and after, & don’t touch your face while wearing 
  2.  Please save the N95 masks for healthcare/frontline workers 
  3. Remember it is not a replacement for social distancing. Your best bet is still to stay at home.

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