Adding Masks to Social Distancing for COVID 19

The US and other western countries have been slow to add masks to the recommended measures for the general public. This is likely largely due to shortages of the masks.

If you have N95 masks, please donate them to your local healthcare workers.

It is a correct call as policy, but as our situation has evolved, we can get benefits from masks without undermining our first responders and healthcare workers and others who really need the real thing.

These are early days for robust scientific evidence for masks, but as a Harvard-trained epidemiologist with laboratory training, I’m not waiting. I’m making (many) masks for my family and me. Then when I have time, I will make more masks to donate.

Randi Paynter

COVID case trajectories chart with use of masks highlighted (much improved) vs. without by country

1. Make a mask

As the shortage of N95 masks continues, the idea of making masks to give to healthcare workers has emerged.

We can double down on this by making masks for individual consumption (not for sale) from a pattern.

***This was designed for love, not profit. Respect health care workers. Please respect my intellectual property. All masks made with this pattern are to be donated to healthcare workers in need, please don’t try to make money off of this – don’t be that guy.

Jessica Nandino

2. Wear it properly

Masks only work if they are worn effectively as seen in this video.

3. Wash it carefully

(THIS NEEDS AUTHORITATIVE UPDATING!) When you get home, take it off immediately, wash it by hand thoroughly while you are washing your hands ( I use the alphabet song as I’ve got little kids). Then, put it in your washing machine or otherwise thoroughly clean it.

… you may need more than one mask.

4. Repeat

Don’t stop.


A good friend who is on top of this also recommends brushing your teeth and gargling well before wearing a mask – you are going to be really close with what’s in your mouth for a while.

Thank you

Annie, Lisa, Randi, Cheryl, and Amanda.


But everything wrong is my fault.

Suggestions and improvements welcome.

It is the details that are going to determine how effective our “social distancing” program is for flattening the curve. This is not just about a doing things a bit differently for a couple of weeks, but probably creating a “New Normal” as to how we operate.

Other Resources

Face Masks for All – #masks4all | Slowing Spread of Coronavirus Infection with Homemade DIY Masks

Information about Sewing Masks in the time of COVID-19

SARS Transmission, Risk Factors,and Prevention in Hong Kong