Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The State of Alaska is recommending the use of cloth face coverings in public places.
Scientific evidence available to date indicates that asymptomatic and presymptomatic shedding of the virus that causes COVID-19 is occurring.
This means that people who have no symptoms whatsoever may be infected with the virus and capable of transmitting the virus to others when interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing. This heightens the need for community-wide implementation of control measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among people who are not experiencing symptoms of illness.
The primary ways to do this are through social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and disinfecting high-touch surfaces. Another tool that may help to minimize transmission while people are around others outside of their household is the use of face coverings.
"Because we are experiencing a nationwide shortage of medical supplies, including facemasks, we recommend that Alaskans make their own face coverings and wear them 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," states a DHSS press release.
Wear a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). Make sure the face covering covers both the nose and mouth. Do not remove the face covering until you return home. When removing the face covering, avoid touching the front of the face covering (because it may be contaminated). Remove it by grasping the ear loops, ties, or bands and immediately discard or place in a designated container for laundering.
Wash your hands immediately after removing the face covering and before touching anything else. Wash face coverings in hot, soapy water between uses. Do not wear N-95 or surgical masks; these are needed by health care workers and first responders, and do not rely on face coverings as the primary way to prevent COVID-19 transmission, and be careful to avoid developing a false sense of security through the use of face coverings. Continue to follow social distancing measures, including maintaining at least six feet between yourself and others, staying at home, avoiding touching your face, and washing your hands frequently.