The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now recommending that people wear simple cloth masks when going out in public.

Although the masks may provide some protection against contracting the virus, health officials emphasize that maintaining 6 feet of physical distancing from others is still the best way to prevent infection. If someone is infected, wearing a mask could prevent transmission to others.

Health officials report a shortage of surgical masks and N95 respirators and recommend that those items only be used by health care professionals.

The CDC provides tips and several methods to make masks for personal use, including two options that do not require sewing:

Cloth masks can also be worn by health care professionals over N95 respirators to extend their life.

Blue Mountain Hospital District is providing the instructions below to people interested in donating cloth masks to the hospital. The design includes pleats, which allow the mask to stretch over a respirator.

Since elastic is in short supply and high demand, the hospital is also sharing a link to a different design that can be made without elastic:

The hospital also provides patterns for gowns. The hospital will only use approved patterns. Email Sylvia Ross at for patterns and more information.

Supplies 8-inch-by-16-inch rectangle of cotton or cotton-blend fabric (pre-washed so the mask doesn’t shrink)

5 inches of 1/8-inch elastic or 6 inches of 1/4-inch elastic

6 inches of wire (20 gauge or 22 gauge)



Sewing machine


1. Fold fabric in half to form an 8-inch-by-8-inch square and press with iron. This folded edge will be the top of the mask.

2. Top stitch close to the folded edge.

3. Straight stitch across the top, 1/2-inch down from the folded edge, to create a casing for the metal wire.

4. Baste both sides of the mask, leaving the casing for the wire open on at least one side (so you can thread the wire through at a later step).

5. Start the pleats by folding from the top edge down 2 inches. Fold the top edge of the fabric backward.

6. Make three pleats approximately 1/2-inch deep and pin in place on each side.

7. Baste pleats on each side with a straight stitch.

8. Press pleats with iron and straight stick over side of pleats to secure in place.

9. Insert 6-inch wire through top casing and then zigzag stitch around remaining raw edges.

10. Trim excess fabric edges and threads.

11. Pin edges of elastic just below corners of mask. Use one piece of elastic for each side of the mask. Secure at top and then bottom of mask on each side to create a loop.


Rudy Diaz is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at or 541-575-0710.

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