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We Should All Wear Homemade Masks. Here's How To Make One From A T-Shirt

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These are homemade masks, made with a polypropylene liner, sewn by Tina Martinez, wife of Take Two host A Martinez. (Courtesy of A Martinez)

We’re asking public health officials and experts to answer your questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep in mind that this information does not constitute professional medical advice. For questions regarding your own health, always consult a physician.

The guidance from officials up until recently had been to only wear a mask if you were sick or caring for someone who was. But on Wednesday night LA Mayor Eric Garcetti took it to the next level and announced that all Angelenos should be wearing one when out in public. The county followed suit. Not the N95 models — save those for the healthcare workers. Garcetti said homemade ones are just fine.

It’s a smart move, says University of San Francisco data scientist Jeremy Howard.

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It’s mainly to help others... Think about it this way: we know the spread is from the micro droplets of saliva when you are talking. If you have something over your face, obviously it will hit the mask and not the person you are talking to.

Howard wrote about the benefits of DIY masks in a recent Washington Post Op-Ed and says, for the general public, one made of a T-shirt and a paper towel will work. You can see him make one here.

Howard compared the data from Japan with New York City. Japan is a country of 127 million people. They’ve had limited testing and are practicing poor social distancing, but they’ve only had 70 deaths due to COVID-19. Compare that to New York City, which is a metropolis of 8 million. That city has been shut down and more than 1,500 people have died. The difference, says Howard? Japan’s use of masks.

But remember: wearing a face mask will not make you invincible. We all still need to practice physical distancing. Howard says it’s like wearing a hard hat on a construction site, a seatbelt in a car, or a condom during sex.

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