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JOHNSTON: Extension Office helping with face mask needs in community

As we prepare for the gradual reopening of our businesses and other aspects of our community, it has been recommended that masks or cloth face coverings be worn.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended this practice for more than a month now to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

After reviewing studies of infected people, it was found that the infection was present in people who did not show symptoms. That means these asymptomatic virus carriers might have been spreading the virus through their coughs or sneezes, and did not even know they were sick.

A cloth face mask would limit the spread of the virus by keeping that person’s sneezes and coughs from entering the air for others to breathe.

The reason for wearing cloth face coverings is not necessarily to protect the wearer, but to protect those nearby.

It has been requested of the general public to wear facemasks or cloth face coverings starting May 11 as part of an effort to continue to keep our virus numbers at or below the level they have been while we have been staying healthy at home.

The Clark County Extension office is helping to facilitate mask donations for those in our community who may not be able to get face coverings, and we need help from our amazing Clark County community.

There are several ways you can help.

If you are able to make masks, and would like to donate them, there will be a bin outside the Extension Office labeled “Facemask Donations” that you can place donations in between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or you can place your donations in the second drawer of the filing cabinet outside the office.

If you are able to make masks, and need some materials (fabric, elastic, etc.), reach out to me via email at shonda.johnston@uky.edu, and I will help facilitate what you need so you can make the masks and donate them through the Extension Office.

If you have fabric you would like to donate to this cause that is 100 percent cotton and in good condition (never been used before), there will be a bin outside the Extension Office labeled “Fabric Donations,” where you can place that material for others to use to make masks. You can also donate material outside of our office hours by placing it in the second drawer of the filing cabinet outside the office.

If you do not sew but have time you would like to donate for this cause, we would love to have help with cutting fabric. Contact me, and we can make arrangements for you to pick up material, cut it and drop it back off in the filing cabinet outside the Extension Office. Patterns and information will be provided.

I will also have some brown bag projects available this Friday at the office that will have the fabric, elastic and CDC pattern needed for you to make your own masks for personal use. They will be available at 8 a.m. Check out the Clark County Cooperative Extension Facebook page on Thursday for more details or call the office at 744-4682.

Remember, wearing a cloth face covering does not take the place of social distancing or frequent handwashing.

Cloth face coverings are not the same as surgical masks or N95 respirator masks. Because of their specific purpose and intended use, these two types of medical-grade masks should be reserved for health care workers and other front-line responders.

The CDC also suggests that cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

If you have any other questions about cloth face coverings or would like to help the community by donating in one of the ways mentioned before, you can contact the Extension Office by phone or email me.

Shonda Johnston is the Clark County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences. She can be reached at 859-744-4682 or by email at shonda.johnston@uky.edu.