MUSKOGEE, Okla. — If someone is looking to get a face mask to wear during the coronavirus outbreak, they probably don't have to leave home to learn how to make one.

Doug Walton of the Muskogee County Health Department says the material for a mask can be from an 8-inch strip of an old T-shirt. Other items needed include two 6-inch pieces of elastic (or rubber bands, string, cloth strips, or hair ties), a needle and thread, scissors and a sewing machine.

"There are a lot of different homemade adapted options but most of them involve some kind of cotton fabric," he said. "People can search on the Internet using the terms 'cloth face covering CDC.' It's a three-step process. It's really easy to do."

That search, Walton said, takes you to the Centers for Disease Control site that shows how to wear a cloth face covering, maintaining the covering and how to make the mask.

"We are, in fact, seeing people wearing them if you go to the grocery store," Walton said. "People were wearing them at our drive-thru testing (at Honor Heights on Monday). Masks are very important to wear if you're going to be out in the public. It's a way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. That's why the surgeon general and the CDC have said that all of us should be wearing face masks."

Making the masks can also be found by going to youtube.com and searching for a tutorial.

"Another reason why a mask is so important is because we're finding conclusive evidence that this spreads from people who don't know they have the symptoms," Walton said. "They can actually feel well, carry the virus and spread it unknowingly. A mask can greatly reduce the chances of someone getting the virus from anyone who's breathing, coughing or sneezing or from another surface."

Walton realizes some people will not want to wear a mask.

"They still need to keep a social distance from everyone or a distance of six feet," he said. "If you touch your face, you need to immediately wash your hands or wash your hands before putting on the mask."

Walton offers tips on properly wearing of the mask.

"You want it to be snug but comfortable," he said. "You want to be around your nose and below your chin."

Walton also suggests to make more than one mask.

"You should change them every day," he said. "You can clean them by washing with dish soap and warm water or in the laundry. That removes the germs. If you have two or three of them, you'll always have one that's dry and ready to go."

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