Posted on: May 1, 2020 Posted by: Zuzanna Fudala Comments: 0

By Zuzanna Fudala, Features Writer

Since the appearance of Covid-19, countries around the world have taken precautions to help eradicate the virus, including quarantine. It seems for the state of Illinois, our quarantine is going into its third month, with a modified stay-at-home mandate that has a strong emphasis on face masks. What exactly does this mandate mean for all Illinois residents?

According to an article from NBC Chicago, starting May 1, 2020 a modified stay-at-home mandate has been issued by Governor JB Pritzker throughout Illinois; the stay-at-home mandate will include modifications for schools, outdoor recreations, current and new essential businesses, as well as mandatory face masks and face coverings for those above the age of two in public spaces like stores. 

Although medical masks (such as surgical masks and N-95 respirators) are gaining popularity as they are the best at preventing small particles and moisture from getting inside and out, it is strongly urged that these masks be left for medical professionals who are in close contact with patients. 

Homemade masks and bandanas are acceptable and provide some barrier against particles. Homemade masks should be made out of a tightly woven material such as quilting cotton, unused tea towels, etc. and avoid synthetic fibers. If you feel that the cloth is too thin, use a different cloth or add a second layer. Masks should fit snugly on one’s mouth and nose, but you should also be able to breathe with it on; avoid adjusting the mask! Even if the mask fits, avoid touching your mask to prevent particles from getting in and out of the mask, and subsequently onto your hands!

When removing your mask, avoid touching any other part of your face such as your eyes, nose, etc. Remove the mask by the bands, and properly dispose of it – whether in the trash if you are using a disposable one, or in the wash if you have a reusable one. Homemade masks should be changed, washed often, and not worn until they are washed – like underwear. Make sure to make a couple more masks as spares in case you need to go out again, or if your other masks are in the wash. 

As a precaution, anyone that is under the age of two, unconscious, has trouble breathing, is incapacitated, or unable to remove a mask without assistance, should not be wearing a mask according to the CDC. 

With Stay at Home orders still in place in Illinois, it is important to remain vigilant about hand washing. Use warm water and soap whenever possible, and wash (not just rinse) for 20 seconds – “Happy Birthday”, twice or “The Alphabet Song.”

Remember to maintain other quarantine procedures such as washing your hands often for 20 seconds with soap and water; sanitizer can be used when one is unable to get to a sink, but should not be used as a substitution for washing hands. Maintain social distancing as well. Stay at home unless you need to go out, and stay a distance of 6 feet from others as much as possible if you must go out. Several chain stores (Meijer, Target, Home Depot) are now requiring their employees and any vendors who enter their stores to wear protective masks.  Some of those same stores have curtailed their hours to provide additional cleaning and sanitation of all surfaces.  Many are also limiting the number of people inside the stores an any given time. Essential trips include groceries, prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines, and home repair supplies. Disposable items (gloves and masks) are for a one time use only, so change them frequently to prevent germs getting in personal items such as your phone, keys, wallet, etc. Dispose of them in an appropriate waste container, not in the parking lot of the store.  Some retailers are providing PPE waste receptacles near the car corrals. Wipe down your phone daily with alcohol prep pads or sanitizing wipes, being careful to avoid any liquid from entering the charging port or headphone jack.

www.cdc.gov/coronavirus

www.dph.illinois.gov

For more information visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), visit your city’s website (for example, www.oaklawn-il.gov, www.paloshillweb.org, etc.), NPR.org, and tune into your local news station for any updating information. If you are interested in mask tutorials, the CDC has a few examples, or simply google how to make face masks. 

It is exhausting constantly being in quarantine, but it will end soon. Remember to practice quarantine procedures, and take care of your mental health as well. Zuzanna Fudala can be contacted at fudalaz@student.morainevalley.edu