As the local area and country as a whole continue to make the move from shutdown to reopening, officials are encouraging local residents to take precautions as they begin to encounter more people.

With the rise of facilities reopening amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in rural areas, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) along with social distance practices are strongly encouraged by officials.

According to information submitted by Starr Regional Medical Center’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator Brandi Armstrong from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), four steps can be taken to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The steps encompass familiar practices that most people have adjusted to during the time of the safer-at-home order that was established by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.

The steps include: stay home as much as possible, practice social distancing by remaining at least 6 feet away from others, clean your hands often and, finally, wear cloth face coverings while in public.

The CDC recommends everyone to wear cloth face covering when leaving their homes, regardless of whether they have a fever or symptoms of COVID-19.

“This is because of evidence that people with COVID-19 can spread the disease, even when they don’t have any symptoms,” stated an article from the CDC. “Cloth face masks 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.”

Cloth face coverings prevent the person wearing the mask from spreading respiratory droplets when talking, sneezing or coughing.

Wearing the coverings also prevent people who may have the virus, but are not showing any symptoms, from spreading it.

Cloth face masks are not the same as medical face masks, surgical face masks or respirators worn by medical personnel.

According to the information from Starr Regional and the CDC, when using a cloth face covering, there are several things to keep in mind when putting the covering on.

The organizations recommend making sure the mouth and nose are fully covered, the coverings fit snugly against the sides of the face with no gaps, there is no difficulty breathing and that the cloth can be tied or otherwise secured to prevent slipping.

It is recommended that people clean their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer before putting on, adjusting or removing the face covering.

The organizations also recommend avoiding touching your face as much as possible and keeping the covering clean by washing it regularly.

Cleaned masks should be dried completely using a hot dryer and stored in a clean container or bag, according to officials.

Cloth face masks can also be made from home utilizing a variety of common items such as T-shirts or bandanas.

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