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There is no evidence to support that wearing a face mask will protect you from COVID-19. You should still avoid touching your face, washing your hands frequently for 20 seconds using warm water and soap and practice social distancing.
Canada's Chief Public Health Officer stresses that the science revolving around the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change rapidly — and now, new evidence reveals that some infected people are contagious and able to spread the virus a couple of days before they start showing symptoms. These individuals are known as “presymptomatic.”
In April, Dr. Theresa Tam said Canadians can wear a face mask to help cut down on transmission from those who are infected by the novel coronavirus but are asymptomatic (showing no symptoms) or presymptomatic — especially in situations where maintaining proper physical distance from others isn't possible, like shopping in-store for groceries or riding public transit.
This emerging direction came several days after a similar message from U.S. authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.
Tam also advised Canadians not to use medical masks to reserve the use of this gear for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.
"A non-medical mask can reduce the chance of your respiratory droplets coming into contact with others or landing on surfaces," Tam said. "The science is not certain but we need to do everything that we can and it seems a sensible thing to do."
Non-medical masks refer to any mask or cloth facial coverings that aren’t N95 respirators or surgical/procedurals.
Users are strongly advised to use non-surgical face masks with proper care:
Non-surgical/cloth face coverings should be washed routinely, depending on frequent use.
Sterilize and clean non-surgical/cloth face coverings through the washing machine.
Individuals should be careful not to touch their eyes, nose, and mouth when removing their face covering and wash hands immediately after removing.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
While Tam offered advice on how to fashion a non-medical mask, suggesting Canadians could use a cotton shirt and rubber bands, there are also still many retailers stocking them online if you’d prefer to buy. The best part is, many of these brands are also using the opportunity to give back to the medical community.
To shop for non-medical masks and to learn about how your purchase is making an impact, scroll through the list below.
The boho-chic retailer is the latest brand to offer a selection of reusable face masks to shoppers, and is partnering with the nonprofit organization GetUsPPE. For every post shared on social media with the hashtag #SliceOfHappy, the brand will donate $5 towards providing healthcare workers with personal protective equipment.
The Seattle-based retailer is proud to now offer face masks for sale on Nordstrom.com. With each customer purchase of a pack of six face masks ($24), Nordstrom will donate one mask to Good+ Foundation.
Old Navy is now selling non-medical face masks for the whole family! They're made with three layers of 100% cotton poplin and are designed according to the CDC recommendations for non-medical-grade masks. Old Navy is proud to be donating 50,000 of these masks to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Additionally, Gap Inc. is supplying millions of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to frontline healthcare workers.
Mask packs ($15) include five reusable, personal-use, non-medical-grade cloth face masks for adults, in assorted colours, prints and patterns.
Supporting Feeding America and their COVID-19 relief efforts, Everlane is donating reusable masks for every purchase of their mask three-pack ($40). Each non-medical mask is made from a double-layer knit fabric and features cotton-Lyrca earloops for stretch and comfort.
The label has pivoted its production, to manufacture and distribute cotton face mask. For every 3-pack mask ($12) sold, they will be donating a mask to local Los Angeles communities and local senior centers.
Khloe Kardashian’s Good American label is now producing non-medical denim masks ($7). For every mask purchase, one will be donated to a local organization in need.
Now available for pre-order, Disney is offering family-friendly reusable cloth face masks ($20) adorned with your beloved characters.
Disney is donating one million cloth face masks for children and families in underserved and vulnerable communities across the U.S. that will be distributed by MedShare. They will also donate all profits from the sales in the U.S. of Disney’s cloth face masks to Medshare, up to $1 million, now through Sep. 30.
Reformation has partnered with The City of Los Angeles on LA Protects, an initiative to organize local manufacturers to make five million non-medical masks. You have the options to purchase a five-pack of non-medical mask ($38) for yourself or donate it to someone else who is in need through the retailer’s website.
Kim Kardashian’s clothing line is now offering non-medical, reusable and washable face masks ($8).
To support COVID-19 relief efforts and protect those particularly vulnerable to the virus, SKIMS is donating 10,000 Seamless Face Masks to the following charitable partners: Baby2Baby, Good+ Foundation, LA Food Bank, and National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Frank and Oak have commissioned in-house technical designers to sew masks from upcycled shirts. The set of two non-medical, 100% cotton masks is made reusable and adjustable at the chin to reduce gaps. All proceeds will go towards non-profit organization, Moisson Montréal, dedicated to redistributing food donations and basic commodities to organizations on the Island of Montreal that help those in need.
Since pausing the production of MLB player jerseys, Fanatics has been using the fabric to produce single-use face masks that will be donated to state governments and hospitals. According to the Sports retailer’s website, the masks were created to "address the shortage of critical supplies, during the current public health emergency."
Sports fans and customers can also shop 100 per cent cotton masks (starting at $15) on the site to continue repping their favourite teams.
The New York City-based label has created non-medical cotton face masks ($30) that are available in a variety of prints and quantities. Masks include an inside pocket opening for a filter to be placed in-between the two layers of fabric, offering you more protection. (Filters are not included and you should use a new one with every use).
Alice and Olivia have introduced the Stacefact Protective Face Mask ($15). For every mask sold, they will be donating one to communities in need.
The denim authority brand is partnering with the city of LA to produce non-medical masks for the workers in essential sectors. For every mask set ($20) sold through Apr 30, $10 will be contributed to No Kid Hungry.
The Canadian label has launched limited-edition face masks ($25) with a built-in, removable 3M system for extra protection. For every purchase made of the Limited Edition Spencer Badu Face Mask, they will be giving away another in support of #NGH1000Masks Challenge and a donation to Toronto’s Humber River Hospital.
Halting garment production, the L.A-based brands has shifted their efforts to produce non-medical masks from 100 per cent cotton for personal use and protection.
Each pack ($25) contains 5 reusable masks made from assorted custom RAILS fabrications and should be washed before first use. For every mask purchase, Rails will donate a pack to essential workers and businesses in our local communities.
Michael Stars mask pack ($32) offers two washable & reusable masks with stretch elastic ear straps in both grey & black. The brand is also working to produce and distribute masks total to LA Protects and local health clinics and organizations who are in need.
Los Angeles Apparel’s 3-Pack FACEMASK ($43) is made of 100 per cent cotton and features an adjustable nose that you can form to the contours of your face. Featuring two straps, it can be worn around the head and neck that can be tied and tightened to preferred fit. All purchases of the 3-Pack FACEMASK help fund our ability to donate masks to other essential services while providing living wages
To ease the strain on medical masks, Encircled is making non-medical masks for the community. You can buy a five-pack, or donate a five-pack, or both. All donations will go to Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital #PPEDrive.
Currently sold out but now available for pre-order.
Sanctuary’s limited-edition Essential Lifestyle Fashion Masks is designed to create a barrier to protect you from the environment around you, while also making you feel confident. This unisex PPE mask comes in an assortment of our stylish signature prints. Each purchase of a five-pack ($26), we will provide masks to organizations in need.
In support of @masks4medicine New York-based designer, Collina Strada, continues to make 100 per cent cotton to the organization and will be giving away a free mask with each purchase on the label’s website.
The denim label has joined forces with the LA Protects and Mayor Eric Garcetti to produce non-medical face masks in their LA-based manufacturing facilities. For every four-pack of masks sold ($29), PAIGE will donate a pack to be distributed to those on the frontlines.