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Infectious Disease

Wear a face covering

With Alaska's economy reopened and more opportunity for Alaskans to be out-and-about, it's more important than ever to take whatever steps we can to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The primary ways to do this are through social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and disinfecting high-touch surfaces. Another tool that may help to minimize transmission while people are around others outside of their household is the use of face coverings.

How to use a cloth face covering

We highly recommend that all Alaskans wear a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies). A cloth face covering is a material that covers the nose and mouth. It can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face. It can be made of a variety of materials, such as cotton, silk, or linen. A cloth face covering may be factory-made or sewn by hand, or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.

Mask up, Alaksa

Use a face covering to protect others

  • Wear a face covering to help protect others in case you’re infected but don’t have symptoms

  • Keep the covering on your face the entire time you’re in public

  • Don’t put the covering around your neck or up on your forehead

  • Don’t touch the face covering, and, if you do, wash your hands

Who should NOT use cloth face coverings

  • children under age 2,

  • anyone who has trouble breathing

  • anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance

What type of face covering to wear

Please see Health Alert 010 for PDF recommendations regarding the use of cloth face coverings:

  • Make sure the face covering covers both the nose and mouth.

  • Do not wear N-95 or surgical masks; these are needed by health care workers and first responders.

  • Do not rely on face coverings as the primary way to prevent COVID-19 transmission, and be careful to avoid developing a false sense of security through the use of face coverings. Continue to follow social distancing measures, including maintaining at least six feet between yourself and others, staying at home, avoiding touching your face, and washing your hands frequently.

How to remove a cloth face covering

When removing the face covering, avoid touching the front of the face covering (because it may be contaminated):

  • Do not remove the face covering until you return home.

  • Remove it by grasping the ear loops, ties, or bands and immediately discard or place in a designated container for laundering.

  • Wash your hands immediately after removing the face covering and before touching anything else.

  • Wash face coverings in hot, soapy water between uses.

When to discard cloth face coverings

Discard cloth face coverings that:

  • No longer cover the nose and mouth

  • Have stretched out or damaged ties or straps

  • Cannot stay on the face

  • Have holes or tears in the fabric

How to make your own face covering

Because we are experiencing a nationwide shortage of medical supplies, including facemasks, we recommend that Alaskans make their own face coverings and wear them in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) -- especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.  This recommendation aligns with current national guidance.

Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost. There are a number of instructional websites and videos to help with making face coverings.


 Videos about how to make cloth face coverings


Resources from CDC


 Cloth Face Coverings: CDC syndicated content