People who need to leave the house to run essential errands should wear a mask.


All Americans are now being advised to wear face masks when they go outside to prevent them from unintentionally spreading the coronavirus, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The guidance, which is voluntary, was issued in response to the fact that “a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms” and can spread the disease without knowing it, according to the agency. People who need to leave the house to run errands like going to the grocery store should wear a mask where “social distancing measures are difficult to maintain… especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

person wearing mask is seen running by a Peloton Store
Credit: NurPhoto/Getty

The CDC recommends Americans utilize cloth masks that can be homemade with a scarf or bandana (like U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams demonstrated in a video online) rather than purchase surgical or N95 respirator masks, which are currently in short supply and needed for frontline and healthcare workers.

“It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus,” the agency wrote in its advisory. “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.”

The CDC recommends that cloth masks fit snugly against the side of your face, be secured by either tying it or looping it around your ears, and include multiple layers of fabric. You should be able to breathe while wearing one.

shopper wearing a surgical mask looks at a prepared meal at a Trader Joes
Credit: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty

While companies like Apple and fashion designers like Christian Siriano are making or donating masks for frontline workers, this equipment is still in short supply.

Therefore, Americans — celebrities included — have gotten creative with their mask-making skills. Kate Hudson posted a video on Instagram over the weekend with instructions she said a friend sent her on how to make a cloth face mask with a bandana and two hair ties.

“I’m not a professional at this, clearly… I think it’s going to be really helpful for people because people are having a hard time finding the masks,” she said, joking that her ears were so big “they just flip right over” when she puts it on.

Similarly, Colin Hanks -- whose dad, Tom Hanks, tested positive for coronavirus — posted a photo tutorial on how to make a cloth face mask, adding ‘Hanks Kerchiefs Maker’ to his description on Instagram.

“Don’t forget to put [your] kerchief in the washing machine afterwards!” Hanks wrote.

Here’s how to make a no-sew face mask with a coffee filter and cloth, according to the CDC.

Step 1: Cut coffee filter

Step 2: Fold fabric

Step 3: Fold filter in center of folded bandana. Fold top down, fold bottom up.

Step 4: Place rubber bands or hair ties about six inches apart

Step 5: Fold sides to the middle and tuck

Step 6: Place rubber bands or hair ties around your ears