Face masks recommended to limit spread of COVID-19

In parking lots and in stores, face masks can be seen throughout eastern North Carolina.

To mask or not to mask? It is a question many people are asking, as the Centers for Disease Control recently recommended wearing cloth face masks in public to try to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Jen Sheldon, a registered nurse at CarolinaEast Medical Center, says wearing a mask – even a homemade one – in public places can help keep people safe.

“If I were to walk into Tractor Supply today, and I were to sneeze, those droplets spread out,” she explains. “But, if I were wearing a mask like this – even a simple cotton mask – and I were to sneeze, it would catch most of those droplets and keep them close to me.”

For an average person, Sheldon says wearing a homemade mask can even be more responsible than wearing a medical one.

“The medical masks, the surgical type and the N-95 masks, need to be reserved for frontline health care providers,” she says.

Craven County Health Director Scott Harrelson agrees.

“There’s a hierarchy of need established by the CDC,” he explains. “You don’t want to have your health care workers repeatedly exposed to the virus.”

While masks are a good precaution, health care workers and officials stress that wearing a mask is not an alternative to staying home, as people could be spreading the virus unknowingly.