Crafters and designers are offering DIY instructions and options to “buy one, give one.”
When New York City photographer Juliana Sohn found herself recovering from COVID-19 in the early days of the lockdown, she started to realize the importance of face coverings. “At that point, the messaging was that ordinary citizens should not be buying or wearing masks,” she says. But after her recovery, Sohn recognized the risk of not wearing one: “I realized that I had probably been infectious for several days prior to showing symptoms. I had been out shopping like crazy to stockpile food and supplies for what looked like an impending lockdown. I imagined the number of people I could have unintentionally infected.”
This topic soon became hotly debated, but “it would take the CDC two more weeks [until April 3rd] to change their messaging,” explains Sohn. Despite this delay, she decided to focus her creative energy into researching and sewing masks and face coverings using her fabric —documenting the process with a step-by-step tutorial on her Instagram page to spread the word and encourage others to make their own. This inadvertently turned the now out-of-work Sohn into a “mask activist” (or a “maskavist” as she’s been called by friends). “I want it to become the norm for everyone to wear a mask during this pandemic,” she says. “The more that people see other people wearing masks, the more that they will do it too.”
Now, CDC recommends “wearing cloth face coverings 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” to help slow the spread of the virus. The change in terminology to “face covering” is a positive move because it encourages people to use any kind of fabric to cover up.
Culturally, masks have been common in parts of Asia (which was hard-hit by SARS and MERS) for years—and that may have helped slow the spread of COVID-19 in these regions. Dr. Neil Fishman, the chief medical officer of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times, “What we do know is that individuals can shed virus about 48 hours before they develop symptoms and masking can prevent transmission from those individuals.”
See the full story on Dwell.com: Yes, You Should Wear a Face Mask. Here’s How to Get or Make One
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