In the beginning, the guidance was clear: Unless you have COVID-19 or are caring for someone who does, you probably don’t need to wear a mask in public. Now, that’s all in flux. The CDC is expected to retool said guidelines, advising Americans to wear cloth masks in public, perhaps as soon as tonight.
A few studies suggest that homemade cloth masks are less effective than proper medical ones, but are still better than nothing. In one experiment, a surgical mask filtered 89 percent of viral particles from volunteers’ coughs, a tea towel blocked 72 percent, and a cotton T-shirt blocked 50 percent. … If people use makeshift masks, they should thoroughly wash them afterward. And most of all, they should remember that homemade masks are not fully protective.
Underpinning the mask debate is another about how this new coronavirus travels—specifically, whether it is airborne. (Airborne, in the public health sense, doesn’t just mean “travels by air;” it refers to a specific state, in which the virus moves as "aerosols.") Early studies offer preliminary answers, but many questions remain.
One question, answered: How can we explain to a 4-year-old why she can’t see her friends or go to school?
When discussing social distancing with young children, Andrea Delbanco, the editor in chief of Time for Kids, recommends that parents explain how to flatten the curve using age-appropriate language. “Ask your child to imagine that everyone in your family got the flu. If everyone felt sick at the same time, you could not care for one another. But if you took turns getting sick, someone could always be healthy enough to help,” Delbanco tells The Atlantic’s Ashley Fetters.
Delbanco also recommends parents answer questions about the pandemic as truthfully as possible. “Don’t make reassurances or promises you can’t keep. That might calm them in the short term,” Delbanco says, “but in the long run, it’s important that they trust you to be honest with them.”