ACTON (CBS) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed its tune when it comes to wearing face masks in public.
"Since people without symptoms can have the virus and shed it without knowing it that's really the main reason for the masks," said Dr. Paul Sax, the clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Because of medical mask shortages, officials said people should use cloth, not N95 masks or surgical masks.
"It's critically important that we let people in the hospitals in healthcare settings take care of people with COVID-19 with the best possible protection we have and then this other approach using a cloth mask is a very reasonable one until those supply issues are resolved," said Sax.
The U.S. Surgeon General posted a video on YouTube showing how to craft a face covering with a t-shirt and rubber bands.
"Things like bandannas, things like scarves, they're actually also better than nothing. People should feel free to use those too," Sax said.
Or you can turn to Tallulah & Poppy, a clothing store in Acton that had to shut its doors during the coronavirus crisis. The company is manufacturing and donating thousands of medical masks to healthcare workers and now with these new CDC guidelines, they're also making washable, cloth masks and "make-your-own-mask" kits to sell to anyone online.
"The outreach of people looking for personal masks has been crazy," said Meghan Doyle, the founder and creative director of Tallulah & Poppy. "If this is one way to keep things going for my business as well and provide people with what they need to be safe that's a win-win."
Doyle started a GoFundMe page last month to raise money to get the cotton fabric needed to make the masks. So far, they've raised $18,000 and their first batch is now in production and should be available soon.
The CDC recommendation is voluntary, but Sax said people should take this precaution.
"We do think this really will help," said Sax. "Now that we're at this phase of the epidemic in the U.S. with very rapid upslope of cases, especially for example, right here in Boston, I would definitely recommend it."
Officials warned wearing a face covering is not a substitute for social distancing or hand washing, though.
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