Homemade cloth masks offer limited protection against COVID-19 — here’s how to make them and use them safely

Homemade cloth masks aren’t ideal, but given the present shortages of medical-grade protective gear in the midst of a pandemic, they may be the best option for some people.

The new coronavirus, named SARS-CoV-2, is a dangerous, airborne illness. It has already spread to 169 countries, including in the United States. Its rapid spread and a lack of preparation by government officials has left doctors, nurses and other frontline workers without access to the protective equipment necessary to defend themselves from the pathogen as they treat patients. It’s also left the public without the option of masking up en masse to slow the spread of the disease.

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