(BIVN) – Both Hawaiʻi County Mayor Harry Kim and Governor David Ige, in separate news releases, endorsed the voluntary use of facemasks today for use when in public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The recommendations are in line with national guidance released today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Kim and Ige both agreed that the cloth masks should not be surgical masks or N-95 masks, which are critical supplies that need to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.
Homemade masks can be made from household items, old clothing or bandannas, Mayor Kim said. For more information on how to make a face mask from fabric, please call Civil Defense at 935-0031.
“This would be voluntary, and it would be to protect each other from Coronavirus,” Mayor Kim said. “As Dr. John Martell of Hilo Medical Center says, ‘Let’s all protect each other.’” Kim recommended that everyone wear a mask when leaving home and encountering others.
The State of Hawaiʻi says:
Although there is no current data to demonstrate that homemade, cloth masks are effective for individual protection, it is reasonable to assume that wearing a fabric mask can help prevent the spread of infection to others. The CDC now recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public settings particularly where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and takeout food establishments.
“Many of us may be walking around unaware that we may be carrying coronavirus, and when we cough, sneeze, and to a lesser degree, even speak, cloth masks can block infectious droplets and prevent the virus from spreading,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson. “Protection of others is maximized when facemasks are used. However, it is important to avoid touching your face when wearing and adjusting a mask. Remember, my facemask protects you and your facemask protects me.”
“There is no need to wear a cloth mask when you’re outdoors and not in close proximity to anyone else,” Anderson concluded. “Being outside in fresh air is good for us, and there is no risk of being infected as long as you’re not around other people. So, we encourage people to walk, run, and surf…as long as you practice good physical distancing. Don’t hesitate to remind others to do the same.”
The state also added:
CDC guidance emphasizes that maintaining 6-feet physical distancing remains important for slowing the spread of the virus. Masks are primarily considered an infection source control measure, designed to keep sick people from spreading their germs. Masks complement other physical distancing measures, which are the most effect means of containing community spread. Masks are not a substitute for stay-at-home orders and are less effective than frequent handwashing, avoiding touching your face, and simply staying away from people who are ill.