Governor Jared Polis launches mask campaign as deaths from coronavirus continue to increase

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DENVER — The way Coloradans look and interact is changing. On Friday, Governor Jared Polis asked Coloradans to wear cloth face masks when they leave their home.

The announcement comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the use of non-medical cloth masks across the nation.

Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) Incident Commander Scott Bookman admits it’s going to take some getting use to.

“It’s a little awkward and it’s a little uncomfortable,” he said.

According to the CDC, up to 1 in 4 people infected with COVID-19 lack symptoms. Its why experts say wearing a mask is a big step towards preventing the spread of the virus by people who don’t know they’re infected.

But how much protection does it offer?

“We are still trying to understand exactly how effective it is,” Bookman said. “We know that in other areas where they have adopted a mask culture, they have seen reduced transmission.”

He recommends wearing the mask outside and while shopping.

“The mask is here to stop the droplets from coming out and landing on you and landing on a surface, which will prevent the transmission of the illness,” Bookman said.

Masks should be washed every day. The state has partnered with the Colorado Mask Project, which is providing Coloradans with patterns to make homemade masks and additional information.

“The material can be anything that they can get their hands on,” Bookman said. “We don’t want people going out to the stores to buy material.”

You can also find countless Do-It-Yourself (DIY) videos on YouTube. Bookman says the important thing to keep in mind is making sure the fabric covers the nose and mouth.

“At this point we want everybody to do everything that they can to stop the spread of this illness,” Bookman said. “We need to flatten this curve; we need to give our healthcare system time to prepare for the surge that may be coming.”

Governor Polis is warning people not to go out and buy surgical masks, which are desperately needed by hospital workers on the frontline.

Wearing a mask is encouraged but not required and will not be enforced.