The Macoupin County Public Health Department (MCPHD) continued its outreach to the community on Tuesday with two announcements: stay home as much as you can and wear face coverings in public settings.
The health department said people must stay at home as much as they can to stay safe from the coronavirus pandemic and slow its spread. People should only leave their homes to go to work, obtain health care, or to obtain essential supplies.
The Illinois Stay at Home mandate means big changes in our daily routines including how and where we get our exercise, and what and when we eat. We know that healthy habits can affect a person’s risk for illness. Getting enough physical activity, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep and reducing our stress can help our bodies work as well as possible.
The department also reminded residents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. This would include grocery stores and pharmacies.
“Staying home, social distancing and strict hand hygiene are still preferred methods for preventing further spread of COVID-19,” according to Derek Tiburzi, Macoupin County Emergency Management Coordinator, “But face masks are one more tool that may be used by the general public and essential workers to protect each other from respiratory droplets produced when we cough, sneeze or talk.”
Those who are staying home and have no close contacts that are infected with COVID-19 don’t need a mask while at home. Provided you do so alone or with close, household contacts, other situations that don’t require a mask or face covering include running or walking in your neighborhood, mowing the lawn, performing spring yard cleanup, gardening, driveway car washing, and other outdoor activities on your own property. Nevertheless we must be intentional about avoiding crowds and social distancing so we can enjoy physical connections later.
Best practices for making and wearing homemade masks include:
- Using materials available at home or buying materials online to avoid exposure in public places
- Purchasing masks made by small businesses, saving medical masks for health care workers and potentially helping the local economy
- Making masks from materials that will hold up to daily washing and drying, wash and dry newly sewn masks before using them for the first time
- Having more than one mask per person so they can be laundered daily. This will also be helpful if your mask becomes wet, damaged, or no longer fits and you need to replace it
- Washing your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water before putting on a mask, immediately after removing it, or if you touch the mask while using it.
- The mask should fit snugly around your mouth and nose. A metal wire sewn or built into the mask will help it conform to the bridge of your nose.
- Avoiding touching the mask while using it. If you do wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
- There are relatively few studies of the effectiveness of masks made from homemade materials. Whether you use cotton fabrics, paper-based shop towels, or other materials, try to strike a balance between the materials you already have at home, how easy it will be to breathe while wearing the mask for extended periods away from home, and whether or not you would prefer to craft a new mask every day (paper) or wash and reuse your mask(s).
- Replacing your mask when wet, damaged or it no longer fits your face. Masks should not be worn damp or when wet from spit or mucus.
- Try to avoid touching the outer surface of the mask when removing it. Remove the mask by untying it or unfastening the ear loops. Place it in a bag or bin away from small children or pets until it can be laundered.
It’s also a good idea to wash your mask or face covering at least daily. Place your used masks in a bag or bin away from small children or pets until they can be laundered with detergent and dried on a hot cycle. If you need to remove and reuse your mask before washing, consider putting it in a plastic or paper bag (not your backpack or purse) and be mindful not to put the mask where others can touch it or where the mask will contaminate other, shared surfaces. Wash your wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face. Paper-based masks, like those crafted from shop towels, should be discarded after each use.
Good personal hygiene habits are critical to protect others and us from disease. MCPHD continues to recommend everyone follow Centers for Disease Control and Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines to protect themselves from the influenza and other like illnesses. Practice social distancing, stay home when you are sick, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, wash your hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, practice other good health habits including the cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill, and abide by the Shelter-In-Place order put in place by Governor Pritzker.
COVID-19 shares many symptoms with other common respiratory diseases. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as signs of fever, cough and/or shortness of breath please call your medical provider for guidance. Do not show up unannounced at any health care facility. If you have a life-threatening emergency, please contact 911 immediately.
People are encouraged to go to dph.illinois.gov/Covid19 for statistics regarding the number of positive cases in Illinois and Macoupin County. You can also find updates for Macoupin County posted on the Macoupin County Public Health Department Facebook page. If you have questions regarding COVID-19, please call the Macoupin County COVID-19 hotline at 217-313-5078.