We’ve been frustrated by the lack of consistent, reliable information about masks as a protective measure against Cornonavirus. Wear one, no don’t. Materials and fit are critical…well, no, a bandana will do. From our wide reading and common sense here’s what we’ve boiled it down to:

Wearing a mask can help keep us safe to varying degrees. Something is better than nothing. Make your own if you can’t find one.

We love the clever pleated mask designed by Jiangmei Wu, professor of interior design at Indiana University known for her elaborate folded artwork. She used simple origami folds secured with staples.

Wu created a template to print out and follow (below). You can download it from this page, along with written instructions. Wu says it can be easily tweaked to accomodate different faces.

I want to have a very simple design so it can be easily manufactured, and a design that fits the face tightly. Loose fit is a major problem with current surgical masks. When I see millions of faces wearing the same surgical masks on the news every day, I’ve asked myself why people don’t have an alternative.

The key is in using an effective material that will block the virus. We got a lot of useful info about viable face mask materials from this New York Times article which lays out possibilities and thinking.

The gist: You need a material that is efficient in blocking virus particles yet still allows you to breathe. A good rule of thumb: Hold the fabric up to a bright light. If light passes through really easily and you can see the fibers, it’s too porous. Look for a dense material where light doesn’t pass through.

Wu suggests using a vacuum cleaner bags made from PTFE (aka Teflon®) or polyester felt (make sure it does not contain fiberglass). She likes Envirocare Technologies Vac Bags.

Christine Wang, Indiana University

We want to do all we can to keep ourselves and those we care about SAFE.

Update: As important as wearing a well-fitting mask is knowing How NOT to Wear a Mask. Read about it here.

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