Coronavirus News: The dos and don'ts of homemade face masks

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Executive Order requiring all people in New York to wear a mask when out in public went into effect Friday and medical professionals say there is a right way, and a wrong way, to wear one.

Dr. Sandra Kesh, an infectious disease specialist with Westmed Medical Group, says surgical masks mainly help to prevent asymptomatic carriers from unwittingly spreading coronavirus to others, though they do also offer some protection against infection for the person wearing them.

"It does also serve as a limiting factor for spreading any aerosol and droplet to other individuals and so it kind of serves as a barrier in both directions," Dr. Kesh said.

However, surgical masks and N95 respirators are in short supply and ideally should be reserved for medical personnel.

Dr. Kesh says the most effective homemade mask can be fashioned out of a vacuum cleaner bag.

"There are a lot of videos online that demonstrate how to create a mask out of a vacuum bag using origami techniques," Dr. Kesh said. "It's really not that complicated, it's a good project for the kids to do at home, and they really do provide a comparable level of barrier."

Items like bandanas or scarves are less effective.

One way to tell how effective your face covering is, is by holding the material up to the light.

The more light that filters through, the less protection it offers.

Either way, face coverings, Dr. Kesh says are an important tool in preventing a reemergence of the rapid spread of the virus.

"This recommendation that's coming down from the governor is a recognition that we don't have the full picture yet," Dr. Kesh said.

Therefore, wearing something is better than nothing.

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