All of a sudden, the one thing that we all need -- and we didn't know to stock up on -- is cloth face masks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Friday that Americans wear masks if they must go out in public during the new coronavirus pandemic.
This doesn't mean that people should wear medical-grade masks that should be reserved for health care workers, including disposable N95 masks, surgical masks or "procedural" masks. We're talking fabric masks or scarves, similar to what have been used for years in some other countries.
And this is not in any way a substitute for practicing social distancing or washing hands properly. But with those two important steps, face masks might help limit transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Wearing a mask protects you from infected people -- but it also protects others in case you are infected. Some who are infected with the coronavirus don't know it.
A few cities and states are ahead of the CDC. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a press conference Thursday that he wanted New Yorkers to start wearing face coverings.
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"Today, I am asking all Pennsylvanians to wear masks, any time you leave your house," Wolf said Friday. "Masks help prevent people from sharing illnesses."
But wearing masks is easier ordered than done.
Face masks are in suddenly short supply from internet sellers, with many sold out or not available to ship for weeks. Some drug stores, including CVS, are not selling disposable masks online.
So what to do? Here are some options:
Support a crafter
On Friday, several Etsy stores were still selling handmade masks for relatively inexpensive prices and with reasonable shipping times (about five business days for some stores without paying for rush shipping).
Better hurry up and order, though.
Or try your local Facebook and Nextdoor groups, where some people are offering to sew masks, particularly for first responders -- including this Amish group in Lancaster County.
Find a 3-D printer
Obviously only a few people have access to a 3-D printer, but those that do can print a face mask. Rowan University in New Jersey has developed a pattern for a 3D-printed face mask; you can download it here.
Make your own - with or without sewing
If you can sew, now is the time. The New York Times has a printable tutorial for making a face mask here.
Or you can make a face mask out of old clothing you already have.
Scarves, T-shirts, shorts -- even bras -- can be repurposed. This video gives you step by step directions:
Remember, this doesn't have to be complicated. The goal is to cover your face. So if you want to use a securely tied scarf or bandanna, just do that.
If nothing else, covering up will remind us all that we have a part to play in a worldwide pandemic -- one as simple as covering up.