Hey, Michigan, here’s how to make a face mask to fight coronavirus

Sign of the times: The Surgeon General of the U.S. making a YouTube video demonstrating how to make homemade facemasks.

Got some spare time? Yeah, us too.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended people wear some type of face mask in public as a means to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

So for those less handy among us, and for you mask skeptics, here’s what you need to know:

I thought I didn’t need a mask

Until recently, the World Health Organization and CDC were not advising that healthy people wear masks, unless you were caring for, or near someone with, a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection.

There were several reasons for those initial recommendations. For one, a study published last month in The Lancet noted that the limited supply of masks and other medical supplies pushed health authorities to discourage mask wearing among the general public.

The other hurdle in suggesting people wear homemade masks? No one is quite sure exactly how effective they actually are.

A 2006 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Emerging Infectious Diseases acknowledged the difficulty in determining the effectiveness of homemade masks, and suggested additional research be conducted. Further research in 2013 concluded that while homemade masks “should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals,” they would likely be better than protection at all.

Do I need an N-95 or surgical mask to go to the grocery store?

While wearing a mask may be an important tool against fighting the spread of COVID-19, public health experts still say it’s important to reserve supplies of medical-grade face masks and respirators for health care workers that need them amidst the current shortage of personal protective equipment.

Do homemade face masks work?

In addition to preventing the release of droplets from coughs and sneezes, homemade masks may also be effective in reminding people to stop touching their face — one of the many common ways in which the virus is transmitted.

In an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Neil Fishman, chief medical officer of the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, said that scientists now know that people can pass on the virus, or “shed,” about 48 hours before developing symptoms, suggesting that “masking can prevent transmission from those individuals.”

If it’s a difference between having a mask and not having a mask, having a mask is better than not,” Dr. Jordan Sall, chief of staff at Gerber Memorial Hospital in Fremont in West Michigan, previously told Bridge Magazine.

Will wearing homemade face masks keep me from getting coronavirus?

Face masks are not a guarantee against contracting COVID-19, but can aid in reducing community spread when combined with proper mask disposal or washing, frequent hand washing and social-distancing methods as recommended by the World Health Organization.

So how do I make a mask?

Fortunately, you don’t have to be crafty, or even have a sewing machine, to make a homemade mask. Everyone from medical professionals to crafting newbies have offered up their own tutorial videos and instructional guides online for creating masks at home.

Here are a few from across the Internet for everyone from the DIY-rookie to the sewer-extraordinaire.

No-sew mask tutorials:

Here’s the Surgeon General of the United States making a face mask with a T-shirt and two rubber bands.

Here’s a video demonstrating how to make a washable, reusable pleated face mask – again, no-sewing required.

Sewing Tutorials:

Here’s a 14-minute, detailed video by a doctor explaining how to sew a face mask.

And here’s a tutorial from JOANN Fabric and Craft on how to sew a face mask.


Michigan Health Watch is made possible by generous financial support from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the Michigan Association of Health Plans, and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. The monthly mental health special report is made possible by generous financial support of the Ethel & James Flinn Foundation. Please visit the Michigan Health Watch 'About' page for more information.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Mon, 04/06/2020 - 5:53am

Lead by example.

Gerry Niedermaier
Sat, 04/11/2020 - 11:02am


Tue, 04/28/2020 - 1:33am

You DO NOT need a face mask. Latest REAL studies which use the SCIENTIFIC METHOD prove that coronavirus is less deadly than the flu.


Thu, 05/07/2020 - 10:35pm