Use Homemade Masks as Last Resort Against COVID-19, TMA Task Force Says


AUSTIN April 7, 2020 – As physicians across Texas and the U.S. struggle with shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks, some have asked the Texas Medical Association whether homemade masks should be used to protect against COVID-19.

In response, the TMA COVID-19 Task Force has issued the statement below based mostly on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for both medical professionals and the general public.

Texas Medical Association COVID-19 Task Force Statement on Homemade Masks

Regarding health care professionals (HCP), the Texas Medical Association recognizes that homemade masks do not have scientifically proven protective measures against COVID-19. However, in scenarios where crisis capacity strategies must be implemented and approved, medical-grade respirators and face masks are unavailable, TMA supports Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, which states:

"In settings where face masks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE), since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face."

Regarding the general public, the Texas Medical Association supports Texas residents reserving face masks for health care professionals, who face a much greater risk of exposure during this worldwide PPE shortage. TMA wants to remind the general public that when using homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) to protect themselves against COVID-19, individuals should still practice social distancing, frequent handwashing, and other CDC-recommended and proven protective measures.

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