Much has been said and written about the need for non-medical face masks to protect wearers, and the people they come in contact with, from Covid-19. No mask is 100 percent effective, not even the N-95 masks that medical professionals use. (The “95” in the name indicates that they are 95 percent effective.) Unfortunately, there is a serious shortage of medical masks, so people all across the country have come together to create masks for their families and friends, and for people in the community that do not have access to masks or the means of sewing them themselves. Making masks for others protects all of us and contributes to a spirit of togetherness in this very difficult time.

Masks can really help:

Falmouth Face Mask Order

On  April 27, 2020, the Falmouth Board of Selectmen voted to authorize the Board of Health to issue a Mandatory Mask Order

The order requires all employees of essential business (defined by Governor Baker’s March 23 Emergency Order, as updated) to wear a cloth face covering such as a fabric mask, scarf, bandana or other covering over their mouth and nose when interacting with the public, handling food, or when within six feet of a co-worker.

All customers, vendors, and members of the public entering essential businesses are also required to wear a face covering, as are residents and the public when they are in common areas of multifamily dwellings.

These cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators, which should be left for medical
professionals and first responders.

The order does not apply to voters in polling places, though they are strongly encouraged to wear fact coverings. It also does not apply to children under 2 years old or people who have trouble breathing, are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance.

Massachusetts Face Mask Order

Governor Baker of Massachusetts issued a face mask order on May 1, 2020 that goes into effect on May 6 and requires that everyone over the age of 2 (except those with breathing problems or those who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance)  must wear face masks or face coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible. A face covering may be a mask, scarf, bandana, or anything that covers your nose and mouth. Health care masks should not be used and should be preserved for health care workers and first responders.

The order applies to all workers and customers of businesses and organizations that are open to the public as essential businesses, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retail stores and to those using any transportation service or public mass transit.

The order is available at

There are many  ideas about what type of face mask design is best, what fabrics should be used, and how the face mask should be worn and taken care of. Below are links to some articles we have found helpful, interesting, or worthy of discussion.

Mask-making materials

Most sources recommend 100% cotton, specifically quilting cotton, because it is made with a tighter weave than most other cotton fabrics. But other fabrics are acceptable and often recommended. The articles below mention other materials, such as silk and  polyester-spandex chiffon, in addition to cotton, or a cotton quilt with cotton-polyester batting and emphasize the need for a snug fit, which was also stressed in the nylon stocking mask cover article.

Here’s what WHO says your mask should have to prevent COVID-19 spread (ARS Technica)

How to Choose and Use a Face Mask (Consumer Reports)

Best Materials for Homemade Masks (American Chemical Society (ACS))

Homemade Masks Made of Silk and Cotton May Boost Protection (University of Chicago News)

How to Care For, Store, and Reuse Masks (USA Today)–y9chLbSSjGGnIQob3ce5T_2rPgLzQ9phZF11M

Adding a Nylon Stocking Layer (NPR)

Making Your Face Mask More Effective (NPR)

Related Articles

Face Masks Mandated at Essential Businesses (Falmouth Enterprise)

Coronavirus on Clothing (New York Times)

Do Hand-Sewn Masks Protect Against Coronavirus? (KCRW)

DIY Cloth Face Masks (CDC)