With new national recommendations encouraging the targeted use of personal face coverings due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, a Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) official is updating residents on why using them at key times could be helpful.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public where other measures meant to keep people apart are difficult to maintain such as grocery stores and pharmacies.

Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH, said as experts continue to learn more about COVID-19, a new virus, it’s becoming clear some people can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.

"This means the virus can spread between people who are close to each other without them realizing it is happening," she said. "That’s the reason for this change and new recommendation."

Harrist said the cloth face coverings CDC recommends for most people can be bought, made or adapted from common items and materials at low cost.

“These are definitely not the same thing as surgical masks or N-95 respirators," she said. "Those types of masks are vital supplies right now across the country and we need to save them for health care workers and other medical first responders."

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or anyone who can’t take the covering off without help. When removing the coverings, people should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth and should wash hands immediately after removing.

Cloth face coverings also should be routinely washed, depending on the frequency of use, in a washing machine.

More information about COVID-19 and Wyoming can be found at https://tinyurl.com/uhle7od.

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