Wearing non-medical grade face masks in public settings, such as grocery stores and gas stations, where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain is recommended to slow the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. People can spread COVID-19 even when they don’t have symptoms and do not know they are infected. A cloth face covering is an extra layer to prevent the droplets from traveling in the air to other people.

“We encourage people to wear cloth face masks in all public settings such as stores, salons and churches as well as restaurants when not eating or drinking,” said Eric Weller, coordinator of South Central Healthcare Coalition. “Wearing a mask is one of the ways we can protect our vulnerable neighbors. Your mask protects others and their mask protects you.”

Face masks are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health. To learn more about properly wearing face masks, visit the CDC: How to Wear Cloth Face Coverings. Face masks should not be worn by children under 2 years of age.

In addition to wearing a face mask, practice other everyday health habits. Maintain social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from others, stay home when you are sick, wash your hands often and use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available